17 Comments

    • So sad that folks lost homes and other property!

      From a Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA) article: “The devastating wildfire that has displaced hundreds of people and burned about 150 homes in north-central Washington slowly moved away from populated areas Sunday, allowing for a massive relief effort to begin.

      “The Carlton Complex fires fanned most intensely through rugged terrain near the communities of Carlton and Twisp. As of Sunday the fire had scorched almost 300,000 acres, or about 470 square miles, of the scenic Methow Valley, officials said.”

      Side note: Awesome video from a drone.

    • Tell us again, why you would make a simplistic and irrelevant connection between so-called “environmental activism” and the Pateros fire?

      Have you ever been to Pateros? Here’s a pretty representative photo:
      http://www.city-data.com/picfilesv/picv38608.php

      Here are a couple of articles that may help you deepen your understanding of wildfires and forest ecology:
      https://www.wilderness.net/library/documents/science1999/Volume5/Agee_5-3.pdf
      http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/Wildfire/Prescribed-Fire/The-Natural-Role-of-Fire

      • Great comment Guy!

        Yep, we’re entering “wildfire silly season” where it appears – according to some “old timers” – every single wildfire (including those wildfires burning in brush, grass, sage and fruit orchards) are the clear fault of environmentalists who have spoken out, and in some cases have relied on science and law to prevent logging/thinning on a few acres of National Forests. Of course, never mind the fact that logging/thinning has never been proven to have much of an effect on wildfires burning in 100+ temps, high winds and low humidities.

        Seriously Mac, I’d love to hear what YOU would have done specifically in the Pateros landscape, as illustrated by Guy’s photo.

        P.S. Anyone else notice green trees and green vegetation around some of the homes that burned? Jack Cohen has talked about for years….But nobody listens.

        • MatthewK

          Re: “never mind the fact that logging/thinning has never been proven to have much of an effect on wildfires burning in 100+ temps, high winds and low humidities”
          —> So all wildfires burn in 100+ temps, high winds and low humidities ???
          – Is that your reason “to prevent logging/thinning on a few acres of National Forests” even when it is a gross understatement to say that only a few acres have been impacted by environmental activism? Your reoccurring theme seems to be that because fuels management doesn’t make any difference in some cases, we should increase the danger in all of our forests by allowing fuel loads to build up every where? Do you have any idea of how many acres of wildfire started out “in 100+ temps, high winds and low humidities” over the last decade? Did you know decades ago that the 2014 Carlton fire would occur “in 100+ temps, high winds and low humidities” so there was no sense in reducing fuel loads?
          – As you state, the drone video does give the impression that the fire was all scrub. But did you also note that the video shows that the fire was close to the ground without significantly harming the evergreen trees out in the open that are shown in the drone video. Doesn’t that counter your statement that stand density control by logging/thinning wouldn’t have made any difference? Why else are those evergreen trees still standing and looking quite healthy for the most part? However, we really can’t jump to conclusions based on the drone video which may not be representative of the 243,291 Acres as the incident report says that the fuel type is timber with grass understory.

          Re: “relied on science and law to prevent logging/thinning”
          —> You seem to have returned to your intransigent point of view. What happened to your recent admission that Phd’s often disagree on the science? Is that just water under the bridge?

      • GuyK

        Why do you flame MacM with demeaning comments like:
        1) “simplistic and irrelevant connection between so-called “environmental activism” and the Pateros fire?”
        2) “Here are a couple of articles that may help you deepen your understanding of wildfires and forest ecology”

        It is simplistic and irrelevant ‘hands off’ “environmental activism” that violates the articles that you say he needs to read to ‘deepen his understanding of wildfires and forest ecology’. The articles support his point about hands off environmentalism which ignores the need for fuels management.

        Any decent forester agrees with those articles in their totality. That was all part of our coursework and our experience. We knew years ahead of 1988 and often discussed that Yellowstone was primed and ready to explode. Anyone can cherry pick phrases out of these documents and use them out of context to negate the main point of these articles which is that ‘to balance the interaction between man and wildfire, management is required.’

        Selected quotes include:

        A) Fla. Article:
        In the concluding 5 paragraphs we find:
        – “Periodic natural fires prevent the heavy buildup of fuel which, when ignited, can harm our forests and ecosystems. Controlling fires in accordance with Nature’s scheme must be based on fuel management.
        – “Fire is neither all good nor all bad. It is natural. It is powerful. In the proper places, in the right hands, at the right times, fire can be an asset and an ally. To employ fire as a useful friend is much more logical than confronting it as an enemy.”

        B) Agee Article:
        – Even this article focused on Wilderness acknowledges in the first paragraph that “Why, then, did we need a “let-it-burn” policy for fires, or surrogate strategies like prescribed fire? Humans and fire have an inseparable history (Pyne 1995). We have been able to control fire for human purposes for thousands of years and find it very difficult to “let wild fire loose” (Pyne 1989). There are some good reasons for this reluctance, including the issues of safety to humans and damage to resources and property. As much as we have tried, we have not been able to find areas large enough to “let wild fire loose,” and this has been at the root of the challenges to research and management over three decades. It remains a primary challenge today”
        – From the last paragraph: “There always will be subtle pressures to avoid a commitment to wilderness fire programs. Successful wilderness fire management will require continued generations of courageous managers”

        • Gil, “simplistic” means treating complex issues and problems as if they were much simpler than they really are, for example equating “environmental activists,” whatever that means, with some kind of presumed wildfire admiration society… who are we talking about anyway? Rachel Carson? Al Gore? Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad? Greenpeace? Those are all environmental activists, among a diversity of others. Mac’s statement was simplistic. And, because he in no way demonstrated its relevance, or any connection to the fire in Pateros, I called it “irrelevant.” That’s not demeaning, it’s just the facts.

          I offered two articles that, for me anyway, were informative and deepened my understanding of wildfires and forest ecology. Maybe they would for Mac or others also, maybe not. Based on your contention that “Any decent forester agrees with those articles in their totality,” I guess maybe you knew it all already.

          • GuyK

            I guess you missed my point that environmental activists are guilty of oversimplification and irrelevant comments continually.

            It is amazing that because your understanding of wildfire was furthered by the two articles, you thought that an ignorant forester who spent decades dealing with fire and studying it and keeping abreast of the research would be more deficient than you.

            Mac’s statement stands as true, is not simplistic is not irrelevant and your references support his point. Read Matthew’s comment above and tell me that it isn’t simplistic and irrelevant in spite of having his over simplification explained as devoid of scientific merit meticulously and repeatedly on this site.

            Don’t you think that it is condescending and demeaning when you imply that someone doesn’t know what “simplistic” or “irrelevant” mean. I don’t know if it was a deliberate snide remark or just plain arrogance but it is totally uncalled for.

    • Based on what I saw in the video, shrubs and houses seemed to burn hot, while mature trees fared much better. So why is so much fuel reduction focused on removing mature trees, often miles from any homes? Maybe it would be smarter (and motives less suspicious) if the agencies focused on removing shrubs immediately adjacent to homes.

      • 2ndLaw

        Great observation, comment and question.

        1) “shrubs and houses seemed to burn hot, while mature trees fared much better”
        —> Great observation – Explained in #3.

        2) “Maybe it would be smarter (and motives less suspicious) if the agencies focused on removing shrubs immediately adjacent to homes.”
        —> Good thought – That is what managing the WUI (Wildland Urban Interface) is all about. The agencies can’t do anything about it legally, other than provide information and programs that suggest that the landowners take action. It isn’t their land. It is up to the individuals and communities to act on the suggestions of the agencies disseminated information.

        3) “So why is so much fuel reduction focused on removing mature trees, often miles from any homes?”
        —> The answer is in what you observed in the video. Did you notice all of the open space (relative to the tree’s height and crown diameter) between the unburned conifer/evergreen trees?
        —> When the size of the openings is reduced to a certain point and fuels on the ground are increased as a result, then the burning fuels on the ground can dry out the lower limbs of a tree and allow the fire to move from the ground up into the tree. The fire in the lower part of that tree dries out the branches above and then that burning tree dries out the close trees downwind from it. Then the fire jumps from one tree to the next long before the ground fire can catch up. That is what is known as “climbing the fuels ladder” and subsequently “crowning out”.
        —> Reduction of ground fuels and thinning out trees, when properly done, maintains sufficient distance between trees to significantly reduce the chance of crowning out. Crowning out is the major reason for extremely large losses of forest acres as the fire literally races through the trees with a spine tingling roar at speeds up to 60MPH. In a crown fire (which creates its own wind) sparks can leap as far as a mile or two away and start more fires further straining the fire fighting resources. This is especially bad when different fires approach each other and feed off of each other’s heat and fire induced winds to create huge updrafts filled with sparks.
        —> The best demonstration that you can create in order to see this effect for yourself would be to take a large room and put a single ping pong ball on a set mouse trap (i.e. tree) and throw another ping pong ball (i.e. a lightning strike) at the mouse trap. Not much really happens. Next fill the room with set traps loaded with ping pong balls set on a 10 foot matrix so that no ping pong ball is closer than 10 feet to its nearest neighbor. From the doorway throw a single ping pong ball into the room. Maybe a few traps (trees) will snap and launch their ping pong balls (sparks) but, again, nothing big happens. Now fill the room with set traps with ping pong balls no more than one foot apart from each other and throw a ping pong ball into the room. You’ll be amazed at what happens and how quickly it happens. Fire is a bit like the ping pong balls in this analogy, the closer the trees (fuels) are to each other, the more chance that the fire will blowup into a catastrophic fire.
        —> The same analogy applies to the spread of insects and diseases between trees. In addition, add the compounding factor that too many trees close together competing for a fixed quantity of sunlight, water and nutrients weakens the trees when taller trees shade others out and trees with the best root systems get more nutrients and moisture than others. Even the tallest trees with the best root systems are weakened by the competition from their dying competitors. The trees that can’t compete eventually die and become fuel. Competition makes all of the trees more susceptible to fire, insects and disease. That is why sound forest management is necessary to maintain a healthy/vibrant/vigorous forest over the long run and reduce the risk of and extent of acreage lost to fires, insects, and disease. It is all about the carrying capacity of the land.

        I hope that this brings us closer together in terms of understanding what is necessary to preserve our national forests for the long run.

  1. We have little control over what people do on their own lands (other than doing the fuels work, with contractors, and putting it on their property taxes). We should, however, have some measure of “control” over our Federal forests, for the “greater good”. As soon as everyone realizes that every decision and non-decision is a compromise, with impacts and benefits. We, as humans, are the best equipped species to make those choices, instead of “letting nature take its course”.

  2. Would love to know the roofing and siding materials used on the nuked homes.
    As for the fire, it did start on public forest and we don’t know what the conditions were at the origin point, what kind of road access was there.
    But once one of these babies gets a head up, builds that hot core, access or defense zones really don’t matter that much, do they? Get enough concentrated fuel, you’re toast.

  3. Actually, I went to Inciweb and looked at all that nice green on the map early on. Had there been more detailed maps there at that point, perhaps you kids would not be able to snark. But snark is fun.
    One thing I find striking is how on the nice green, it looks like the fire had no problem working its way generally upwind toward the west.
    And I have to say it’s interesting how the “new” Entiat, Leavenworth and Brewster fires have all managed to bang up against water features.
    I understand that country is steep, bony and gets pretty darn dry. Still, I don’t think it’s okay.
    Gotta go over to the coast shortly, I suspect the side trips will be depressing.

    • The Inciweb maps available today are the same ones that were available “early on.” Nothing has changed at Inciweb in regard to the ignition origin information. The only difference between your post and my reply is that I took the time and effort to research the facts, while you didn’t. If you think that’s “snarky,” so be it. I call it being accurate. Have fun at the coast.

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