Thursday, October 9, 2008

extra crews

Skycrane detail, November 2007.
Photo by Guy McCarthy.

Thursday, Oct. 9 2008 - More fire crews are shifting to Southern California today as Santa Ana winds are expected to return this weekend. Additional aircraft are already on standby.

The Forest Service issued this press release today:


VALLEJO, Calif. – In preparation for forecasted Santa Ana winds this weekend the Forest Service is bolstering its fire response readiness with additional firefighters, aircraft, and extended patrols.

This Sunday and Monday, weather forecasts are calling for the first Santa Ana wind event of the year. In response, local forests are staffing firefighters for 24 hour shifts and 20 additional engines, 12 heavy air tankers, and six Sky Crane helitankers have been moved into the area to assist with initial attack. Additionally, the Forest Service has requested the Air National Guard provide two Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) equipped C-130 aircraft to assist with potential firefighting needs.

“We have already had a long and difficult fire season in Northern California this year,” said Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore, “but as the fire season transitions into Southern California we will remain alert and proactively shift firefighters ahead of Santa Ana winds to improve our ability to stop wildfires before they can grow out of control.”

Locally, on the San Bernardino National Forest, an additional five engines will supplement the usual 25 local Forest Service engines, totaling 30 engines on extended staffing, as well as four hotshot crews, three airtankers, two helitankers, two helicopters, an air attack plane, and addition initial attack support. An additional four single engine airtankers can be available within four hours.

“San Bernardino National Forest firefighters continue doing a tremendous job taking immediate and aggressive action suppressing wildland fires on the forest,” said Forest Supervisor Jeanne Wade Evans. “Now as we potentially face our first Santa Ana winds of the season, we’re ramping up our fire fighting resources and law enforcement patrols.”

Each fall in Southern California, Santa Ana winds have the potential to rapidly spread wildfires which makes rapid response to fires extremely important. Although the Forest Service and partnering firefighting agencies in Southern California are doing their part to prepare for potential wildfires this fall, it is equally important for local citizens to do their part.

Citizens can help firefighters by ensuring that their homes have defensible space and by being especially careful with open flames, sparks, and other heat sources.

Additionally, citizens living near the wildland-urban interface should keep an eye out for arson and report arson activity immediately by dialing 911.


On standby, November 2007. Photo by Guy McCarthy.

Meanwhile, a study released today shows wildfires cause ozone pollution levels that can exceed health standards.

The study, conducted by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, focused on California wildfires in October and September 2007.

NCAR scientists Gabriele Pfister and Christine Wiedinmyer found the fires repeatedly caused ground-level ozone to spike to unhealthy levels across a broad area, including much of rural California as well as neighboring Nevada.

The study is copyrighted by the American Geophysical Union.


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