Some say the world will end with fire.

Others say with ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those that favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate,

To say that for destruction ice,

Is also great and would suffice.

Robert Frost


"Good things come to those who wait, but, only the things LEFT by those who hustle." - Unknown (at least by me)

"Life is wonderful, without it you are dead." - Hy "Pete" Peterson - Park City and Kenecott Miner

"Don't worry about those people in your past---there is a reason they are not in your present." - Unknown

"Life's tough - it's even tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary!" - Vince Lombardi

"If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re probably taking up too much space.” ~ Attributed to Jim Whittaker by Doug ‘Swani’ Swantner, Alaska Smokejumper and Air Attack Base Manager (Ret.)

About Me

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I am married and have seven children and twenty grandchildren. I retired January 1, 2010 after working 39+ years for the Forest Service...NEW CHAPTER IN MY LIFE HAS BEGUN!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Most of you know that a big part of my life and profession has been related to wildland fire. I spent 25 years as part of an organized fire team that dealt with the most threatening fires. I loved doing that and I also participated in prescribed burns serving at positions from Igniter to Burn Boss. I loved the challenge of prescribed fire and trying to treat acres with fire before nature did it for us.

I assure you that sooner or later nature is going to burn every acre that has vegetation on it. The fires will also remove any structure or other improvement that has been built on it unless firefighters intervene and can get close enough to keep the fire from destroying them. The key to this is to be able to get close enough to it to make a stand and not be at risk of losing your life. Fires with flame lengths of four feet or less can generally be handled directly by firefighters. Flame lengths greater than four feet generally require equipment to suppress them and fires with flame lengths greater than eleven feet will generally be spotting out in front of the fire making it unsafe for anyone to be out there, even if all they are doing is recon. The spruce/fir fuel type is notorious for spotting and makes control difficult because the fire spreads rapidly from the spots.

Yesterday the District where I used to be the Ranger called and invited me to come up on the mountain and watch a prescribed burn they were going to do in the spruce/fir fuel type. I was excited to be invited up to watch even though I would have to stay a significant distance away from where they were lighting the fire. I pulled into a turnout on the road where I could easily watch the fire. I took these three pictures while I was sitting there. The first one was five minutes, the second was ten minutes and the third was thirty minutes into the ignition. If you look closely in the second photo you can see spots beginning to show up to the right of the main fire and in the third photo you can see spot fires scattered all along the smoke column and if you look at the bottom of the black smoke you can actually see flames. The flames at this time were over 25 feet in length and were consuming whole trees quickly.

I spent the rest of the day driving around the fire and letting the burn boss know what it was doing and where it was advancing to and how fast it was burning. As is generally the case when the sun went down the fire behavior reduced significantly and the fire finally dropped to the ground where it could be handled by the firefighters. Today they went in with a couple of crews and took the head out of the fire. It should be safe after today.

This fire was ignited under a very tight burning prescription and still gave the crew all they wanted to deal with. Had a fire started in this area during the real fire season I would hazard a guess that significant losses to personal property near this area would have occurred. This area is not going to be fireproof after this burn but it is going to be safe for firefighters to get close to the flames and put the fire out.



Dee Ice Hole said...

And in case you have any questions regarding retardant drops---unless there are firefighters on the ground that can quickly take advantage of the drop, or unless the vegetation is grass with scattered brush, the retardant is mostly wasted.

Lindsay Logic said...

My favorite part about spring yard cleanup is fires. I must get that pyro gene from you! haha

Inklings said...

You do have a little pyromania in your blood. :0)

Looney said...

Sounds like a lot of excitement. Do you ever get used to breathing the smoke?

Dee Ice Hole said...

@ Looney---breathing the smoke never bothered me like it did other people. Guess that is part of the pyro gene.