Thanks to Firefighters and All Those Helping With Wildfires!

Evacuations in helicopter, photo from California National Guard.

It’s snowing here, and so hopefully that will give relief to some of the Colorado fires (and firefighters!). It seems simple to thank and honor firefighters (and pray for, for those so inclined) and the people supporting them (working on fires, their families, and people doing their work while they’re on fires). And yet there are more Forest Service (and other) folks to thank and appreciate for their work.

I caught this in an this story about one Forest Service person helping evacuate campers in California.

While some campers were rescued by helicopters, others made a white-knuckle drive to safety. Juliana Park recorded video of flames on both sides of her car as she and others fled down a mountain road.

“A backpacking trip cut short by unforeseen thunder, ash rain, and having to drive through literal fire to evacuate #SierraNationalForest in time,” Park tweeted. “Grateful to the SNF ranger who led us down … wish we got her name.”

If you see other such examples highlighting FS employees please share.

29 thoughts on “Thanks to Firefighters and All Those Helping With Wildfires!”

    • This is either sloppy, premature reporting at best, or intentionally misleading at worst (seeing as the information was provided by Chad Hanson, who has a well-known record of manipulating the scientific method to garner results in his favor, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the latter). Here are the facts: the Creek Fire’s explosive growth was the result of extreme heat and wind (the extreme heat most likely an effect of climate change). The logic behind the claim that “logging would not stop fires and would likely make them burn hotter and faster” is because logging creates slash, and slash left on the forest floor can carry a fire. However, this fire was not burning along the floor *at all*. It was being carried entirely by the crown layer due to the 60+ MPH winds. As such, has anyone been out to examine these thinned stands yet? Is there an accurate, pre- and post-fire dataset to support the claim that the mechanical treatment made the fire worse? Where is the scientific evidence to support this? Until there are rigorous studies to support these claims, it is impossible and downright foolish to say that forest activities somehow made the fire “worse.”

      Reply
      • FSL,

        You are engaging in the very same behavior you are accusing CCI of doing.

        Your comment has been deleted on our post because unlike social media platforms (or here), we do not allow character assassination based on hearsay.

        When you have the courage to engage in a face to face discussion with Chad Hanson and providing actual references to things you disagree with, and why, instead of hiding behind the curtains on this blog, we would be happy to have you as a participant on our platform.

        Reply
      • Hey FSL and Sharon – thanks for your thoughts. Just a note re the claim that the fire was burning the canopies and not the ground. The areas the fire blew through at the fastest rate of spread had been clearcut after the French Fire- there was no canopy. You are correct wind and weather are the prominent drivers of this fire and all the others burning in CA, OR, WA, it isn’t vegetation. However lack of tree boles (trunks) whether through clearcutting or “thinning” logging operations = a reduction in wind buffers = higher wind speeds through these areas = faster fire spread = less time for people to get out of harms way. Chad would be more than happy to have a conversation about these issues and the science either via telephone or zoom. Just let me know and I will set something up, he has a pretty open schedule the end of next week. Just mention Smokey Wire in the subject header.

        Rachel
        info@johnmuirproject.org

        Reply
        • If you cannot point to an actual official map with a clearcut designation on it, the clearcut did not happen. Continually blaming non-existent clearcuts is not a good tactic. The term “virtual clearcut” has no meaning here. Again, no mention of the vast amounts of dead trees, perfectly dried and waiting for that inevitable spark, often provided by people. It does not matter about the ignition source, though.

          There is more of a lack of prescribed fire, throughout the Sierra Nevada. However, there are so many places where it cannot be safely used, without fuels modifications. WFU has an extremely limited usefulness, especially when so many fires in the west are burning. Personally, when WFU goes bad, I think the ‘decision-maker’ should be held accountable, in one way, or another.

          Even in salvage projects, massive amounts of fuels are being removed from the landscape, which wouldn’t be if we just let nature (including billions of humans) take its course. Re-burns are a real and present danger to forest landscapes. We only have to look at Yosemite to see the results of terrible re-burns.

          Reply
            • You haven’t proven that there was ANY clearcutting happening in those relatively tiny salvage projects. The aerial photos show how highly-flammable the entire area is, due to millions of dead trees. Also, it would be quite enlightening to review the slash requirements for those salvage projects. It’s not like they left massive piles of logging slash all over the landscape. So, tell us all what the slash requirements were, to lead to such a problem. Tell us how the removed trees led to increased fire intensity. I’m quite sure I can find sections of unnaturally thick and unhealthy forests, that probably burned incredibly intensely. (In fact, I already did)

              Reply
              • Larry, I think we are living in alternative universes.

                1. The aerial photo clearly shows a massive number of clearcuts. You are calling those spots “tiny salvage projects?”

                2. The aerial shows the area is filled with millions of dead trees? Really? Would you care to point them out?

                3. Again, we never mentioned slash. No matter how many times you want to say we did, it’s still not there.

                4. How do logging areas contribute to increased intensity and spread? Please read the papers cited in the post. We would engage in a conversation about those papers, but not your anecdotal stories. The original post has some broken links to the papers. We’ve updated it now.

                5. You found unnaturally thick, unhealthy forests that burned incredibly intensely? OK, care to provide them? And please provide your definition of what an unhealthy or an unnaturally thick forest are.

                Reply
                • Of course, I was talking about the false claims regarding the Creek Fire. Sorry about that.

                  I do know that the Plumas is choked with fuels, especially on the west side. I spent three weeks working on a QLG project near La Porte (which was litigated and stopped… but that’s another can of worms). It is difficult country, with confusing roads and some private parcels scattered all around. The fire hasn’t quite reached La Porte… yet.

                  Equating private clearcuts with with USFS commercial thinning is disingenuous.

                  Reply
                  • Never equated private clearcuts with USFS activities. They were clearly distinguished.

                    Please read what I actually wrote, not what you think I wrote.

                    Disingenuous is a polite way of calling me a liar.

                    Reply
                    • Always labeling thinning projects as “industrial forestry” is, indeed, disingenuous. Similarly, USFS salvage activities are VERY different from what private industry does. Yeah, go ahead and blast SPI’s salvage projects but those are VERY different from what the USFS does.

                      End of discussion.

          • Larry, you still have yet to provide any evidence for anything you have claimed here. It would also be helpful to acknowledge that you have made things up after it’s pointed out.

            Reply
            • AND, there is ZERO evidence that the Camp Fire was affected by clearcuts or plantations near Paradise. Of course, your whole argument is based on this non-issue. The facts show that the Camp Fire had to burn through thousands of acres before it even reached a plantation. I contend that the fire would have been worse, if those patches of private land had not been ‘managed’. More fuel equals more embers. Care to address that fact?

              In my opinion, it doesn’t matter what is burning if you have 70 mph winds blowing. There is no science or study that can refute that idea.

              Reply
              • Larry, here is what you need to consider. Read the posts presented, do not conflate those posts with others, and directly answer the challenges to things you claim.

                Nowhere did I say that clear cuts were responsible for the Camp Fire. Find it, or apologize like a gentleman.

                My post on the Camp Fire indicates it burned through thousands of acres of 10-year-old habitat. That was the main issue. The maps we presented show that. Please stop making up strawman arguments to deflect from what was actually stated in our Camp Fire post (link in above post).

                Your contentions, as I mentioned earlier, are opinion, not fact. Not sure why you don’t understand that.

                When you do state a fact, such as when you say at 70mph winds will cause anything to burn, you confuse that with an opinion. Then you pretend that such a statement is a novel thought to us. Larry, the impact of high winds has been a fundamental point we’ve been making for years. Suggesting that we haven’t is yet another strawman.

                In fact, you are making the exact point we are – fuel treatments, clearcuts, salvaged logging, etc., are ineffective in stopping fire spread or protecting communities during wind-driven wildfires. Thank you for stating that.

                Concerning your point about embers (note, I am directly answering a challenge of yours), yes, you are right, the more fuel, the more embers. But the variables to consider is what kind of fuel is burning and what is the wind doing. Fuel a quarter inch in diameter or less is what powers wildfires. Thicker fuels obviously burn, but they do so generally after the fire front has passed. Ember generation and spread is a function of wind and open spaces for them to flow. Since embers can travel more than a mile ahead of a fire front, unless you plan on eliminating all habitat within a mile or more from any development, or any other source of fuel, and paving it over to prevent weed growth, then you are left with only one option to prevent catastrophic loss – make communities themselves fire resistant. Wasting time and money clearing/logging to reduce fire risk is a violation of the public trust as demonstrated by the recent fires.

                From now on, Larry, unless you actually address factual content and respond to actual statements I’ve made, further conversations with you are really quite pointless.

                Reply
                • It is not like there was a green old growth forest before those plantations were made. All of those clearcuts were from the previous fire. If those parcels were left on their own, there would be a lovely mixture of dead trees, grass and brush, instead of a managed plantation. I do agree that plantations are flammable but, the other option of ‘doing nothing’ would most likely have been worse for the residents of Paradise. Larger embers would fly farther. Small embers are consumed much, much quicker.

                  The main issue is that the Flea Valley area, close to the ignition point, had no clearcuts or plantations. On top of that is the thousands of acres of non-managed brushfields, leftover from the last burn. Looking closer, you can see all the trees and brush that was burned intensely, near Concow. The aerial photos do not lie!

                  Additionally, those plantations were in the Paradise WUI, across a major drainage from homes. The WUI is where environmentalists recommend forestry should be practiced. Should we be preserving highly-flammable ‘habitat’, so close to town? (Remember, those plantations were on SPI lands)

                  I do agree with you that clearcuts do not stop fires, or even slow them down when it’s windy. Of course….. nothing stops that. I’m not defending clearcuts.

                  Reply
            • Richard, YOU have made not one but two claims in less than a week with regards to the Creek Fire and Bear Fire with zero evidence of on the ground fire progression in those areas, zero evidence of fire severity in those areas, and zero evidence about what the fire effects were outside areas that had management, and zero evidence of fire effects and severity in the areas of intense drought and beetle mortality. You simply are basing it off a fire footprint, extreme winds, generic maps, and generic photos.

              Simply put, you have made a business of making immediate claims while people are suffering without a shred of scientific evidence to back those claims up, only wide ranging claims that can currently neither be proven nor disproven. You are literally everything that you claim all other scientists who are ‘wrong’ , are.
              It is bad look for you, and there is a wide range of highly educated scientists who quite frankly have no respect for your opinions and statements.

              Reply
        • I don’t know about FSL, but I think that this would be great! But I would need it the discussion to be online. That way I’ve found that people can share examples, maps, links, citations, and really add to their understanding of why we have different views on such a complex topic.

          Would that work for you?

          Reply
  1. It’s distressing to hear that campers were evacuated by helos AFTER the exit road could not be safely used. I know things are tough out there but it seems the FS should have evacuated the CG much sooner.

    Reply
  2. There doesn’t seem to be much mention of the MILLIONS of dead trees within the current firelines.

    I’ll bet this area burned pretty completely https://www.google.com/maps/@37.382996,-119.5436599,584m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

    Also, remember that the Forest Service hasn’t used clearcuts or old growth harvesting in this forest for 27 YEARS. “Commercial logging” in the Sierra Nevada National Forests doesn’t generate much slash at all. The logging slash is removed in “Whole Tree Yarding”. The branches are taken off and piled at the landing. You cannot point to recent logging slash as a culprit in the Creek Fire.

    Reply
      • You blamed slash on the intensity of the Creek Fire, despite the reduced fuels, through salvage logging. There is also the fact that spot fires were being ignited far ahead of the main fire. It sure seems like a fuels problem to me, with millions of dead trees in the area.

        The Plumas fires exploded when the dry easterly winds came up. Also factoring into all these fires is the shortage of suppression resources.

        Reply
        • Larry, again, we never mentioned slash. Why do you keep talking about it?

          The Plumas fires exploded due to dead trees… or because of the winds? I’m confused over what is this statement directed towards? Regardless, not knowing much about the Plumas fires, the fire likely “exploded” because of the winds, not whatever was on the ground. Lack of fire suppression resources has nothing to do with the impact of dead trees on fire impacts.

          Reply
      • Copy and Paste to make a point again.

        Richard, YOU have made not one but two claims in less than a week with regards to the Creek Fire and Bear Fire with zero evidence of on the ground fire progression in those areas, zero evidence of fire severity in those areas, and zero evidence about what the fire effects were outside areas that had management, and zero evidence of fire effects and severity in the areas of intense drought and beetle mortality. You simply are basing it off a fire footprint, extreme winds, generic maps, and generic photos.

        Simply put, you have made a business of making immediate claims while people are suffering without a shred of scientific evidence to back those claims up, only wide ranging claims that can currently neither be proven nor disproven. You are literally everything that you claim all other scientists who are ‘wrong’ , are.
        It is bad look for you, and there is a wide range of highly educated scientists who quite frankly have no respect for your opinions and statements.

        Reply

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