Take a Flyover of the Chetco Bar Fire


How cool is this? I’ve been meaning to post this for the past week.

From the comfort of your own computer screen you can take a flyover of the 191,000 acre Chetco Bar Fire in southwestern Oregon with the National incident Team!

The thing that strikes me right away is the very clear mosaic pattern of the burned area. In fact, it appears that large chunks of the 191,000 acre fire were completely, 100% un-burned. I’ve always wondered about that dynamic over the past 20 years that I’ve paid close attention to wildfires. If, let’s say 20% of the area within a fire perimeter was totally unburned shouldn’t all that acreage be subtracted from the total burn area? Seems reasonable. Also seems like it never happens, we just continue to add up all the acres within the fire perimeter and say that the wildfire destroyed, or ravaged, or burned all those acres.

CLICK HERE for a “Narrated Flyover of the Chetco Bar Fire from Chetco River to Emily Ridge: September 26th, 2017”

CLICK HERE for a “Flyover of the North Point of the Chetco Bar Fire: Illinois River Corridor & Dead Man’s Bar.”

CLICK HERE for a “Indigo Fire Flyover: September 26th, 2017 by Operations Chiefs Reggie Bray & Barry Schullanberger.” This fly-over includes a good discussion about fire management decisions related to ensuring fire-fighter safety. The Indigo Fire was just north of the main Chetco Bar Fire.

11 Comments

  1. A few points.
    1) we now have a great reference to go by for a fly over of the same area in 9 months and 18 months to see the progression of dying trees, as we’ve seen on previous fires. It would’ve been nice to actually see more of the interior conditions, since it would reason that the least severe areas would be along the perimeter. You can see where they attempted to stop the fire near the upper slope on Mt. Emily but we’re unsuccessful due to spotting.
    2) If you drive/walk the area on the west side of the Chetco Bar and the north and east portions of the Indigo, you will find very little 100% unburned area. The east side of the Chetco has some areas inside the “big box” that was put out by the rain, but not sure if it is included in the acreage. If the local agency follows previous practice, they will burn out to the lines as soon as conditions dry out enough to do so, and judging by the increased smoke yesterday and today I’d say they are.
    3) There are definitely varying intensities throughout the fire, although there is a very large swath of severe intensity that stretches from well within the wilderness, west out to Mt. Emily. Unfortunately, much of the lower intensity and most of the moderate intensity ares will be bleached tooth picks within 5 years preventing further suppression activities for the next burn. These videos can aid in tracking the die off.

  2. If we could figure out how to verify, I’d put a $100 wager on this, F353:

    “Unfortunately, much of the lower intensity and most of the moderate intensity ares will be bleached tooth picks within 5 years preventing further suppression activities for the next burn. These videos can aid in tracking the die off.”

  3. We already have a good start with these videos of the perimeter, now to document the interior. There were large areas of red and brown canopy already. We saw the same thing happen on Biscuit, Blossom, and several others. The Westside project (Happy Camp) last year was burnt in 2014 and green trees outside of snag retention areas reserved in 2015, then by 2016 hundreds more had died. EPIC had lots of photos right after the fire, but didn’t have much interest in comparing them 2 years after. There should be photos from Biscuit where the Mosaic pattern was touted right after the fire, there is google earth photos now that could be compared if you have the time.
    I will try to get some drone coverage, next trip down there.

    • In my experience, there is always more mortality, long after the fire has gone out. A combination of bark beetles and cambium scorch is enough to kill off many fire survivors. Many times, salvage crews have to keep coming back to take additional trees that didn’t meet the guidelines just 2 weeks before. Salvage contracts do provide for extending contracts, if both sides agree to it. Sadly, I think the era of salvage sales over large acreages are gone. It’s more of a ‘cookie cutter’ style, now.

      Yes, there often is untouched forest inside of the fires’ perimeters. I definitely saw that in the Rim Fire, where the (blue) oaks were dominant, and there were small patches of Doug-fir. Odd combination in the lower Clavey River. The fire appeared to blow right over the top of those forests, with embers landing farther up the canyon.

      In the Sierra Nevada, the most flammable forests are choked with small shade-tolerant white fir and incense cedar. Those are the kinds of forests that need thinning. Oregon’s forests are different but, applying site-specific treatments to some of it would help restore increased vigor, fire safety, structure and diversity.

  4. I remember working on the Biscuit fire and watching whole watersheds die off a couple of years after the fire. Trees don’t necessarily like being burnt.
    I think theses videos are cherry picked by the FS. They are trying to make it look better. (The Indigo fire was another fire they could of put out). There are also photos available showing total devastation.
    I don’t think you would try and downplay the severity of the fire if it had been your home, ranch, or timberlands destroyed.
    I still don’t understand why even this mosaic pattern of killing trees is acceptable. There is nothing about these fires that makes the forest healthier, or more fire resilient. I suppose if it is burned often enough so nothing is left it would be kind of fire resilient, but it wouldn’t be a forest.
    How long are we going to continue to spend millions on this kind of destructive forest management?

  5. most ecologists and land managers understand that the perimeter of a burn does not suggest that the entire area contained within it burned uniformly. this is a good tool to help others understand this phenomenon. this illustrates what we typically expect; that areas burned within fires differ based on variation pre-burned stands, topography, time of burn (night vs. day, july vs. august) weather conditions, etc. i don’t think of every acre being “ravaged”. rather, we understand fire to part of fire adapted systems in the western U.S. however, it comes back to what sharon recently said on another post, ” the right fire, at the right time, in the right place.” suggesting that lower elevations typically burned more frequently with less intensity than higher elevation types. maybe this tool could be used to more quickly examine burned are intensities, recover, and describe uncharacteristic fires. an ability to monitor and collect baseline data more quickly will be helpful to BAER teams and managers given the extent of burns in montana alone this year.

  6. I was up in the Blossom bar fire scar of 10 or so years ago. This is in Rogue Siiskiyou National Forest. The rhododendrens are over your head, luckily the fire killed mostly the smaller trees (except in parts).
    But looking at it I could see nothing good that this fire could of accomplished. They let it burn, spent millions of dollars, killed old growth trees, and in 10 years the brush is as thick as ever. In the some spots were trees mortality was the greatest the trees are coming up like dog hair. I really believe that forests west of the Cascades would be happy to go hundreds of years without seeing a fire.

  7. The bottom line that should be pushed is every wildfire needs aggressively and directly attacked, providing for safety, and cut the Federal Fire spending by 50%. Take the saved money and use it for controlled burns, in the right place, at the right time. Additionally, reduce smoke regulations on prescribed burning to allow smoke to impact sensitive areas for “not more than 3 continuous days”, do we can actually accomplish burning where and when needed.
    I think we as a society may be tired of losing lives and property.

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