A BRUSH FIRE WHIPPED BY WINDS and aided by low humidity swept through a Horry County, South Carolina, condominium community Saturday evening. Within a short period of time, at least 26 buildings housing more than 100 residences had been destroyed.
Horry County Fire Rescue responded to the fire about 5 p.m. Saturday, which spokeswoman Leslie Yancey said began as a brush fire, then spread quickly into neighboring condos and single family dwellings. There has been "significant loss," she said.
Firefighters continued battling the blaze into the late evening, but Yancey said it had been "contained to one area." By 10:30 p.m., officials were confident that the blaze was under control, with some hot spots simmering, but activity winding down.
The cause remains under investigation, but Eddie Olivera, who lives in the next neighborhood, said it appeared to start near the power lines that separate Windsor Green from Ashley Park.
The fire came the same day the S.C. Forestry Commission issued a statewide red flag fire weather alert. By 7:15 p.m. the commission had responded to 64 fires across the state.
All buildings on Brite Water Court are a loss, all buildings on Twin Pond Court are a loss, and everything on Pond Shoals is a loss, except for building number 4929, Horry County official Lisa Bourcier said. On Crab Pond Court, unit 4931 has burned, and half of unit 4930.
Some buildings had four units, others as many as nine, Horry County officials said. In total, about 108 units were destroyed by the fire.
WMBF-TV also filed this video report from the scene:
FOUR OUT-OF-CONTROL BUSH FIRES in the Australian state of Tasmania have driven thousands of people from their homes and caused 2,500 to flee to the island's beaches where they were removed by a makeshift flotilla of ferry boats, police boats and private craft. Another 400 were being evacuated at the most recent report from Sky News.
Sydney Morning Herald / Kidd
Due to its island status, getting help from outside the small state was stymied for a while until additional fire crews and their trucks from Victoria could be assembled at ferry terminals and transported to ports in Tasmania.
TEN News filed this video report from the evacuation zone:
Hundreds more have sought refuge with relatives and in evacuation centres across the region, including at the Port Arthur historic site. The threat posed to communities by the Forcett bushfire was downgraded to watch and act, but the blaze continues to burn out of control, and has already done massive damage throughout the peninsula.
The town of Dunalley was the worst hit, with around 65 homes and the town's school destroyed, while dozens more buildings were razed at Connellys Marsh, Eaglehawk Neck, Murdunna, Copping and Primrose Sands.
There have been no confirmed deaths from the fires, but police and defence force personnel will on Sunday begin searching burnt homes and vehicles for bodies.
It has also been reported that at least 100 people are still unaccounted for, but no bodies have been discovered yet.
This more recent video report from NewsWorld has some impressive fire footage:
Russia Today has more raw video:
The firefighting is made more difficut due to the brutal heat wave sweeping Australia with temperatures of 41 C. (106 F.) pre-heating the fuel and battering the firefighters.
The Herald Sun has a good, well-illustrated updated report HERE with more videos.
Fortuitous Fire Exposed Previously Unknown Archaeological Sites
UTAH DIVISION OF FORESTRY OFFICIALS announced earlier this week that an 800-acre brush fire in Emery County on July 18 – 22 was caused by a freak act of nature. The area is rich in pre-historic Indian sites and the fire was spotted by a University of Utah archaeological expedition that was just leaving the area after a 10-day dig.
The Deseret News reported Monday:
(The fire) began July 18 when a boulder fell 800 feet from a cliff face, bounced several times, collided with a larger boulder and came to "an instantaneous stop," said Jason Curry, spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
"It's kind of a rare one," Curry said Monday, describing the conclusion investigators reached after looking at physical evidence found at the fire's point of origin and interviewing people who were in the area when the blaze began.
The falling boulder was the size of a refrigerator, Curry said. The boulder it collided with was the size of a sport-utility vehicle. The heat generated by the "pressure friction" that occurred when the two boulders came together ignited the surrounding grass and brush, according to Curry. "It's like hitting an anvil with a hammer," he said. "It doesn't cause a spark, but it still generates heat."
There were no campfires burning in the area when the fire started, and lightning was ruled out as a factor as well. "That left rock fall as the only cause," he said.
Broken sandstone-quartzite boulder gives testament
to thepoint of origin of the "Lighthouse Fire"
(Utah Division of Forestry photo)
Curry and three investigators tried to make sense of what they found at the origin of the fire. There was green grass at the bottom of a sheer drop-off and freshly disturbed dirt. "We found some pretty violent rockfall in the area," Curry said.
Witness accounts said there were no people in the area of the fire when it started, there was no lightning that day. "We were pretty puzzled," said Curry, who added that he was "very hesitant" to assign the cause of the fire as rockfall, mostly because he had never heard of it.
Curry said that in talking with geologists and physicists they determined, although it is very rare, that it was plausible for a fire to start from the two boulders — composed of sandstone and a little bit of quartzite — hitting each other.
The sandstone boulder fell 200 feet and then bounced 10-12 times downhill, making another 600-foot descent before coming to an abrupt halt. "Just the sheer amount of energy trapped in that boulder … it all came to a stop instantly," Curry said.
While the cause given is extremely rare, there have been at least 8 other wildfires over the past half-century known to have started from rockfall.
The fire that was dubbed "the Lighthouse Fire" by Forestry, had a positive consequence however. The overal area known as the Range Creek archaeological site has about 400 known pre-historic sites and the brush fire uncovered several more that were previously unknown. The Deseret News continued:
The fire, which was contained July 22, exposed a number of previously undiscovered sites in the canyon, according to Shannon Boomgarden, assistant director of the Range Creek Field School.
"We got right back in there and started surveying, and we were able to record 12 new sites," she said, noting that most of the new discoveries were historic in nature, rather than prehistoric. "We found a road that we didn't know was there because it had been covered by sage brush," Boomgarden said.
Neither the fire nor the efforts to extinguish it damaged any of the known archaeological sites in the canyon, she said.
Read the full article in the Deseret NewsHERE. Salt Lake Tribune story HERE.
WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS IN FRANCE NOW HAVE a new resource to rescue firefighters that might be trapped in a forest fire. The device is already used by the police GIGN which is the same as the U. S. SWAT forces. It is a helicopter platform that can hold ten people and lift them out of danger's way in less than five minutes.
The helicopters used are Puma-class military planes that are specially built to work in dangerous air such as a wildfire would create, and have great lifting power. They are currently used in Afghanistan supporting the French troops there.
The operation begins with the helicopter hovering about 30 to 40 meters above the ground where it lowers a collapsed platform by cable to the evacuees. When it reaches the ground, the firefighters open the pod like an umbrella. Then within the next three minutes, all of them step onto the platform and "hook in" to the center pole. Once that is completed within five minutes from touchdown, the winch lifts the platform up to the helicopter. Much faster than one at a time as is done now.
AFP produced this video demonstrating how the device works:
Another advantage comes when evacuating civilians. They have much less apprehension when they are on the more stable platform instead of flying along with their legs dangling in the air.
AN ENGLISH-LANGUAGE AL QUEDA PUBLICATION is advising its demented followers in the U. S. to start forest fires as a means to inflict personal and financial pain, and fear on Americans.
The Rapid City (South Dakota) Journal is reporting:
Terrorists who want to strike fear in the hearts of Americans would do well to set wildfires in Montana, al-Qaida advises in the most recent issue of its English-language magazine, Inspire.
"It is difficult to choose a better place other than in the valleys of Montana where the population increases rapidly," Inspire’s "AQ Chef" columnist writes.
The magazine disappeared for a while after its founders, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, were killed last year in a U.S. missile strike. But it recently reappeared online, its grammatically challenged cover urging "It is of your freedom to ignite a firebomb." Inside, the AQ Chef gives three pages detailing the recipe for an "ember bomb" – along with the suggestion to deploy such bombs in Montana.
The article includes detailed instructions on how to build an "ember bomb" along with hints on which weather conditions are favorable and the best locations for rapid fire growth and spread. CBN News illustrates these tactics in this video report:
Despite the emphasis on Montana, all the western states are taking this threat seriously and adding it to their check sheets and email lists to let everybody know that there may be some related activity from the fanatical fringe.
KOB-TV in Albuquerque reported on how New Mexico is responding to this release:
THIS DOCUMENTARY FILM showing Smoke Jumper training and procedures from the late 1940's is provided by the National Archives and Records Administration. The video runs for 54 minutes, so grab a cuppa first, then sit back and enjoy:
A CREW OF TEN WILDFIRE FF's WERE overun at a fire Thursday that is believed to be purposely set. Of the ten, six perished as they all huddled together after being surrounded. The London Telegraph explains:
The 10 firefighters, private contractors for forestry company Mininco, were trapped by a blaze raging in a mountainside forest in the Araucania region. A helicopter succeeded in pulling the four injured to safety.
"The fire suddenly surrounded them because of the wind, they drew closer together, one against another, and saw the fire pass above them," local governor Miguel Mellado told Canal 13 television.
For more than a week firefighting teams have been tackling a series of blazes in Araucania and the neighbouring Biobio region, rural areas located some 500 to 700 kilometres (310-435 miles) south of the Chilean capital Santiago.
"We have reliable information that makes us presume there is criminal intent behind these fires," President Pinera said. "I believe that we ought to combat not only the fires, but also the criminals behind the fires." The president, who pledged his government would do everything possible to find those responsible, evoked anti-terror laws that could allow for tougher punishments.
Rescue crews remove two of the victims. (Andrade / Reuters photo)
So far, nearly 50 fires have started in the woodlands along the Pacific coast, fueled by unusually dry conditions during a drought and whipped up by El Nino winds.
REUNION ISLAND IS A FRENCH TERRITORY in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. The approx. 1,000 sq. mile island is home to about 800,000 French citizens and also the home of Reunion National Park, a primal forest containing many rare and endangered species of trees and flowers.
Last Tuesday, 25 October, two arsonists started a wildfire that is still burning as this posting is being written. The major fire that is moving through a mountainous region grew larger than the 400 firefighters that were rounded up on the island could handle and the call for help went to the head of the national fire service in Paris. Initially 171 firefighters were sent on the 6-hour flight to Reunion to assist, but more help was needed.
Over the next few days three more groups of additional firefighters, making a total of 820 FF's on the line, were sent along with 50 tons of equipment. Large firefighting airplanes are impractical because the local airport cannot accommodate them, but several helicopters were flown over to assist. By this morning the fire was contained but will still be burning for a while. So far, only one dwelling, a farmhouse has been lost to the fire. The Minister of Ecology announced that the fire is a "major ecological disaster."
20minutes has the STORY. Le Nouvel Observateur has MORE. Clicanoo has fire zone overlays on satellite photos HERE.
AN AERIAL TANKER WORKING A SCRUB FIRE in southern France Saturday afternoon crashed while making a drop and paritally burned. The pilot of the Morane class plane was able to extricate himself and escape the flames with only minor injuries.
The Herault region has been experiencing unusually hot and dry climate for several months and on Saturday the wind was blowing at 50 to 80 km/h as at least 13 wildfires sprang up. Two hundred firefighters were mobilized in the area along with a dozen aircraft including two helicopters. A Morane-type aerial "bomber" was making a drop on one of the fires when a sudden and violent wind burst slammed it into the ground. The pilot suffered a head injury, but was able to get out of the wreckage that soon became mostly consumed with a fire. He will be ok, the medical authorities have said.
In the late afternoon the winds died down and all the fires were either extinguished or brought under control before the sun set.
THE STUBBORN WILDFIRE THAT THREATENED the entire island of Brac in Croatia has been extinguished. (See the Firegeezer report from Saturday HERE.)
The fire was virtually out except for some hot spots Saturday evening, but as a precaution the fire service kept 372 firefighters on standby in case the wind whipped up again. A long portion of the fire line is inaccessable to ground crews, so a carefull watch was required. Sunday morning the situation had remained cool and non-threatening.
At 11:30 Saturday night the Prime Minister of Croatia, Jadranka Kosor arrived and spent today visiting the fire area and thanking the hundreds of firefighters, volunteers, and residents for their hard work in preserving the island with only one resident injured and no homes destroyed.
A wildfire that started Thursday night has destroyed 1/4 of the occupied island of Brač in Croatia. Our correspondent Nenad Ilisic has sent us this report on the situation there:
Thursday July 14 a wildfire fire started on the island of Brač in Croatia.
A strong south wind spread the fire very quickly. Although more than 120 400 firefighters, 40 75vehicles, 4 CL-415 and 1 AT-802 airplanes were engaged, they couldn't stop the fire and the first day ended with more than 2500 burned hectares. Heavy terrain in combination with wind constantly changing direction are the reasons why ground forces were not able to get the fire under control.
Friday, early at sunrise, 5 CL-415, 3 AT-802 and 2 Mi-8 helicopters started to aid firefighters on the ground, who fought the fire all night, with minor success. 250 firefighters are at the moment engaged with more reinforcement on the way. More than 200 persons (tourists and residents) were evacuated. For now there are no reports of injured people. More than 250 sheep didn't survive. Many vineyards and olive groves are destroyed. Last information says that more than 4000 hectares are burned that is almost 1/4 of the island surface. Almost all air forces were engaged during the day to their limits until there was no more visibility to fly.
This Video Shows the Canadair Tankers Refilling From the Sea
Just another day at the beach!
The fire is easy to see from Split. Ash from fire ''snowed'' on the town 17 km away. There is one more night of uncertainty for all people on the island, firefighters included. The only hope is that if the wind weakens during the night, there is large possibility for firefighters to take control of the situation Saturday.
Additional photos available: 24 Sata has a 34-image photo gallery HERE. Jutarnji has a 30-image gallery HERE.
This graphic animation illustrates the area involved:
A GRASS FIRE BROKE OUT LATE Wednesday afternoon in the Soyaux region of SW France. A heat wave joined with a severe drought and 20 km/hr winds whipped the fire up quickly and it raced through about 100 hectares of grass and woodland.
The fire was moving toward several communities before it was slowed down by 150 firefighters. The town of Garat was in immediate danger for a while, but by this morning the fire crews had contained about 75% of the fire line.
All through the fire area the fire brigades were setting up protection between the fire and buildings including a high school that was kept wet with fire hoses.
During the night three columns of soldiers were brought in and today the dangers to the communities were gone. However, the fire is not out yet.
A MAJOR WILDFIRE IS STILL BURNING out of control on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza. The fire started on the Mediterranean playground around noon Wednesday when a beekeeper accidentally started a grass fire when he was smoking his hives. He has been detained by the civil authorities on possible charges of negligent behavior which he denies.
The fire spread rapidly into the mountains that fill the 220-sq.-mile island and has spread dangerously close to the main city of St. Joan. So far 200 locals have been evacuated from their homes along with at least 500 tourists, mostly Brits and Germans. On Sunday many of the tourists were allowed to return to their hotels.
The Spanish Military Emergency Unit (UME) was brought
in to assist in the firefighting effort. (AFP photo)
About 500 firefighters, including some military units, are working the blaze which is not yet contained. However, higher humidity and lower winds the past day have lessened the aggresiveness of the fire spread. More than 20 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are assisting on the fire that has consumed more than 3% of the island's land so far.
Some raw video of the fire and firefighting efforts:
DO YOU RECALL THE story last week about the patient who died in the back of a Kansas City ambulance and the crew didn't know it? After a 40+ minutes trip during a snowstorm, they learned that the patient was dead when they onloaded him at the hospital. See the Firegeezer report HERE.
The City Council is going into damage control now by offering to buy off the dead man's heirs with a $205,000 settlement. The Kansas City Star has the STORY HERE.
ANOTHER STOLEN AMBULANCE, this time in Macon, Georgia. The Macon Telegraph reports that a man got into an ambulance that was parked in front of a doctor's office Friday afternoon and drove off. As it happened, an off-duty police officer witnessed the theft and the chase was on. Read the STORY HERE.
WHO NEEDS EXTINGUISHERS AND DETECTORS? The people who operate the Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York think those things are overrated. The facility is just 24 miles north of New York City and has had problems in the past, including fires. But recently they have been getting piecemeal exemptions from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that have effectively left most of the facility without the minimum coverage that federal law requires. The New York Daily News, in an article about the situation, writes:
Indian Point's two active reactors are divided into 275 fire zones, of which 198 lack automatic fire suppression systems, according to records that plant owner Entergy gave the NRC in 2009.
That means 72% of the facility lacks things like sprinklers and automatic deluge water sprays.
One vulnerable hot spot is the spent-fuel pool at Indian Point 3, where radioactive and superheated fuel rods are kept cool. A spent-fuel pool triggered Japan's nuke accident.
There are no manual fire suppression systems such as hydrants or fire extinguishers in 111 fire zones – 40% of the plant.
Fire detection systems common to most major office buildings such as smoke, heat or flame detectors are unavailable in 173 zones – 63% of the plant.
The Daily News also prepared this video report on their visit to the facility recently:
Entergy's argument is that detectors aren't needed in places where there's little chance of a fire occurring. The State Attorney General is filing a complaint with the NRC. Read the entire article HERE.
WE HAVE A SAD FOLLOW-UP to our report HERE on May 17 about the wildfire in Alberta province that destroyed nearly half of the town of Slave Lake. On Friday a helicopter that was part of the forestry firefighting effort at Slave Lake crashed in the lake in about 4 feet of water. The pilot died on the scene before rescuers could reach him. Twelve firefighters had to be treated for hypothermia from their immersion to retrieve the pilot and to search the wreckage for any other possible passengers. CBC News has the full STORY HERE.
CURRENTLY THERE ARE MORE THAN 100 WILDFIRES burning in northern Alberta Province. The firefighting resources are not sufficient to get control over them yet as hundred of firefighters are being flown in from across the country. The Calgary Fire Department which is located about 200 miles away has dispatched 12 engines and over 100 firefighters to Slave Lake to control the fires there. Update: Firegeezer friend Jay911 has sent along the following information regarding the mutual aid responses:
Calgary FD sent 1 quint, 1 aerial, 5 engines, 1 air-light, a district chief, and support staff (shop mechanic & supply truck), along with 100 FFs. Edmonton sent 70 with an unknown amount of equipment. Calgary also mobilized CAN-TF2, one of five HUSAR teams in Canada very similar to the FEMA USAR teams in the USA. CAN-TF2 sent one 53' cache semi, one 60' mobile hospital semi, and various communications gear and staff to operate/assist with all said equipment.
* * *
In the past two days, three wind-whipped blazes have attacked the town of Slave Lake (pop. 7,000) sending the residents to refugee stations 60 miles away. Currently more than 40% of the town's structures have been destroyed, including the high school, the major shopping mall, and the town hall.
The Slave Lake town hall and government center was
completely destroyed. (CBC images)
The town was totally evacuated on Sunday on a moment's notice when winds shifted and sent one of the fires directly into the populated area.
The evacuation Sunday was sudden, but orderly. (CBC)
According to the latest Alberta government bulletin issued late Monday night, there are more than 100 wildfires burning across the province, 36 of which are out of control. Fifteen of those are in the Slave Lake area.
The largest include a wildfire east of the town that's already burned 20 square kilometres and another to the south that's scorched a 150-square kilometre area.
Besides the mass evacuation from Slave Lake, which Alberta cabinet minister Thomas Lukaszuk said is the largest single-day displacement of Albertans in the province's history, evacuation orders are also in effect for Loon Lake in the Red Earth Creek area and Chisholm southeast of Slave Lake.
Multiple forest fires north of Fort McMurray have also seen the evacuation of about 2,000 oil workers.
CTV News has provided this excellent video report:
For more in-depth coverage of the Slave Lake fire, check periodically with Wildfire Today website HERE.
A FOREST FIRE BROKE OUT TUESDAY east of Viege, Switzerland. The fire was still burning Wednesday night, but it has been contained although it may be several more days yet before it is completely extinguished.
The fire started in an auto repair shop outside the city and spread into the forest. Fortunately the strong winds blew the fire away from the city.
About 350 firefighters and 150 soldiers attacked the wildfire and had the major portions knocked down by Tuesday night. But scores of smaller fires remained throughout the more than 100 hectares of burned area. Eight helicopters were brought in to help fight the blaze.
Hundreds of small homes that are inaccesible to firetrucks are scattered throughout the affected area also. The army has placed two all-terrain vehicles equipped with thermal imaging cameras and they are used to spot the fires and relay the precise GPS readings to the helicopters that then drop water on the hot spots.
Late Wednesday the number of firefighters was reduced to about 70 along with 150 soldiers kept nearby for standby and eight helicopters were making continued drops. According to the forest engineer who flew over the area Wednesday morning, the forest was heavily damaged on the top of the slope, reducing its protective properties. In case of heavy rains, the risk of falling rocks is real because of a weakened floor. The main road could be closed to traffic depending on conditions.
This home video shows the fire spread up the steep mountainside:
RSR has the STORY. Le Matin has an excellent 30-image photo gallery HERE.
WILDFIRES ARE RARE IN BELGIUM and large wildfires are almost unheard of. A grass fire started Monday evening around 5 pm in the Fagnes region, located in the east near the German border. By Tuesday morning it had spread into the Grand Forest Bongard said Marc Cambresy, commander in charge of fire management operations.
The fire kept popping up in different locations in the hardwood and connifer forest while firefighters from Germany and Flanders arrived to assist the Belgian companies. Just before midnight Monday, two new fires were located and the police believe that they were set. "We do not yet know the origin of the fire ravaging the Fens but it seems like it gave ideas to others or a single person is responsible for this disaster, " Police said.
By Tuesday afternoon the situation had become more complicated because of strong, shifting winds that kept driving the flames in different directions. Two helicopters arrived from Germany Tuesday afternoon to aid the 330 firefighters working with 70 fire engines.
While they had initially expected the blaze to continue through until Wednesday, they were able to contain it by Tuesday evening and it is being reported out now.
Euronews filed this video taken from their helicopter:
La Libre has the STORY. Sud Presse has a 48-image photo gallery HERE.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON AT 1:30 PM A FIRE DEPARTMENT helicopter of the Government of Aragon, Spain, crashed while traveling to a forest fire in Teruel. The Bell 407 was carrying six firefighters and the pilot when it went down, killing the pilot and five of the firefighters. One survived and he is in critical condition with head trauma and several broken bones in his limbs. He is expected to recover.
The names of the crew:
Angus Thomson. G, de 35 años(35 years)
José Ramón Millán Salafanca, de 24 años,(24years old)
Francisco Javier B.O, de 33 años(33 years old)
Esteban Galve, de 35 años(35 eyars old)
Rafael Andreu Omella, (40 years old)
Albert B, de 38 años(38 years old) – the pilot.
The only survivor: Ángel Aznar C., de 39 años(39 years old)
The airborne fire brigade crew was dispatched to aid in the rapidly-growing fire located between Cascante del Rio and Villel, but about two in the afternoon, explained the Minister of Environment, Government of Aragon, Alfredo Bone, contact was lost with the aircraft before it reached its destination. Another helicopter, belonging to the 112 emergency service, was sent to conduct a reconnaissance flight. This unit spotted from the air the wrecked aircraft, about 15 miles south of Teruel, and sent back a report with the coordinates of the impact.
At the time of the crash both the weather and the visibility were good.
A WILDFIRE BURNING JUST SOUTH OF SILVER CITY, New Mexico, is still burning out of control this morning after a night of destruction fanned by 50-mph-winds.
The fire started Monday along Highway 90 between Tyrone and Silver City and has consumed more than 1,000 1,770 acres so far. It traveled through two communities overnight and destroyed between 15 and 20 homes so far. The Silver City Sun-News is reporting this morning:
Silver City Fire Chief Rudy Bencomo said because the winds were still fueling the blaze, firefighters were in a defensive mode Monday night, evacuating people as necessary and trying to save as many homes as possible. “Containment really isn’t possible right now,” Bencomo said.
As many as 80 firefighters from all Grant County volunteer fire departments, along with Silver City, and firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and New Mexico Forestry Department, were battling the blaze into Monday evening.
KOB-TV had their news helicopter over the fire last night and filed this video report:
Update: 40 dead as prison bus burns. Scroll down.
Update, 12:40 pm Eastern: Complete village burned down. More info. and video added. Scroll down. Update, 2:15 pm: Three high-ranking emergency personnel missing at fire scene. Scroll down. Update, 7:30 pm: Additional info., more video added.
ISRAELI FIREFIGHTERS ARE BATTLING a raging wildfire today (Thursday) that was first discovered around 11 am this morning. The wind-whipped blaze in the Carmel Forest has blown up to several square miles already and is directly threatening a town and a high-security prison.
The fire command has informed the police to evacuate the Damon prison and all 500 inmates were re-located temporarily at several local jails. The town of Beit Oren was also evacuated and other nearby towns and resort hotels have been put on alert. Update: A second village, Usafiya has just been evacuated also.
Several roads are cut off now and the authorities alerted Haifa University to be prepared for evacuation if it becomes necessary.
There is a strong easterly wind accelerating the fire, but it is also moving it toward the seacoast where hopefully it will be contained.
A police source told Ynet that detectives were probing a lead saying an illegal dumping ground caused the large blaze in the Carmel forest.
Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav visited the site and said authorities had known of the illegal activity for some time. “It was just a matter of time until a calamity occurred,” he said.
There were 15 fire companies working the fire while dozens more are being called to the incident to assist. Air drops have also been initiated.
UPDATE, 11:30 am Eastern: 40 prison wardens burned alive. A bus carrying 40 prison guards to Damon Prison to assist in the prisoner evacuation was caught in the fast-moving fire and everyone on board was killed when it overran the bus. The Jerusalem Postreports:
The majority of the 40 people burned to death in a bus caught up in the Carmel forest fires were prison wardens en route to the Damon prison. The wardens were meant to assist in the evacuation of some 500 prisoners from the facility, situated near Kibbutz Beit Oren, when their vehicle became engulfed in fast moving flames which had spread to the narrow mountain road linking Atlit to Kibbutz Bet Oren.
(Firegeezer has not confirmed if this is the same bus. Yeshiva World photo)
A firefighter spokesman said the fire had traveled 1500 meters in less than three minutes, adding, “the bus had no chance. They tried to escape but were burned alive. It was a horrific scene.”
The spokesman added at the fire was very far from the road on which the bus was travelling when it first set off towards the prison, but had spread far faster than expected.
UPDATE #2, 12:40 pm Eastern:
Yeshiva World has just filed this video report showing firefighting:
The total (unconfirmed) number of people killed has been placed at 51.
Heavy response was dispatched to Givat Wolfson (recently) for reports of 20 people trapped in a fire. This is approximately 2 kilometers from Beit Oren where the main fire originated. FD reports that the people have successfully been evacuated.
A senior police official from Haifa – possibly the Chief of Police – has been killed in the fire.
The IDF has dispatched “D9 Bulldozers” to Northern Israel to assist firefighters in the huge fire in the forests of Mount Caramel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the leaders of Russia, Italy, Greece and Cyprus and appealed to them for assistance in extinguishing the Carmel fire which broke out on Thursday. Netanyahu asked the countries’ to send fire extinguishing planes into the area in order to help Israel contain the fire.
Under changing circumstances in the Carmel fire, emergency services have decided to evacuate the following communities: Nir Etzion, Ein Hod and Ein Hod. Fire officials state that this fire may take days to bring under control.
Sources report that the village of Beit Oran has been totally destroyed.
Greece tells Israel that they have dispatched fire-fighting aircraft to Northern Israel.
UPDATE #3, 2:15 pm Eastern: A report has come in that three high-ranking emergency personnel are missing at the scene. Also, reports from the fire zone say that there may be as many as 70 people who have perished so far.
Hundreds of IDF (Israeli Army) troops have been deployed to the fire to assist the firefighting and relief efforts. A military command post has been set up, also. Police are talking to witnesses who state that this fire was intentionally started by someone. Additionally, this fire started in as many as four places (unconfirmed….ed.).
UPDATE #4, 7:30 pm Eastern:
Turkey has sent two firefighting aircraft to assist and Egypt has provided five aircraft. Planes from several other countries will begin arriving during the early morning hours of Friday.
More than 10,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. More people have just now been evacuated from one of Haifa’s neighborhoods as the fire shows potential of being capable of moving into the city.
ITN News filed this video report (in English) that includes good images taken from a helicopter:
A LOS ANGELES COUNTY FORESTRY FIREFIGHTER TRANSPORT VAN crashed head-on with a passenger vehicle in the northern part of Los Angeles County near Gorman on Tuesday afternoon. The accident left two people dead and 12 injured, five of them in critical condition. The firefighters are one of the state’s prison inmate forestry crews.
photos via KCOP-TV
The transporter was carrying 12 inmate-firefighters and was being driven by a county firefighter when a sedan coming the opposite direction on the road crossed over the center line and collided head-on with the truck. The impact caused the transporter to begin rolling over for about 150 feet, ejecting the imates along the way. One of the inmates and the driver of the auto were killed instantly. Many others were trapped inside the wreckage of the truck and had to be extricated. The injured were transported to several trauma centers in the county.
KGET-TV Ch. 17 Bakersfield has a video report that includes aerial footage of the scene:
KTLA-TV has more details and another video REPORT HERE.
The Los Angeles Times has MORE.
THE RESIDENTS OF BEAVER COUNTY, UTAH, ARE SICK of being sickened by the smoke from a wildfire that the U. S. Forest Service has allowed to burn for more than two months. The named Twitchell Canyon Fire was started by natural causes, but evidence shows that the U. S. Forest Service, who has jurisdiction over this area, has deliberately allowed the fire to continue burning in order to clear out underbrush.
Twitchell Canyon fire photographed from the
International Space Station. (NASA photo)
After 74 days of the acrid smoke hanging over their homes, many residents are literally getting sick from the air. The Associated Press reports:
Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel said he’s given up trying to cooperate with federal land managers. “My concern is that if any farmer in Beaver burns a ditch bank and it gets out of control, I have to go and arrest him with reckless endangerment — but what do we do with the Forest Service?” Noel told The Spectrum of St. George. “There are 42,000 acres burned and not a thing we can do about it. That’s sick.”
Noel said he’s been swamped with complaints about the fire, but can’t do anything about it. “I’m not real happy with the BLM and Forest Service and the way they do things with law enforcement,” he said.
The fire has actually burned more than 44,000 acres, or about 68 square miles, and is only 28 percent contained, fire officials said.
KTVX-TV Ch. 4 Salt Lake reports on this situation and interviews the sheriff via telephone in this video report:
The Forest Service public spokeswoman adamantly insists that the fire is not “out of control.” But a fire burning for more than two months and still only 28% contained renders that statement to be dubious at best.
Now with the Forest Service being publicly embarrassed by the ill-advised decision, they are bringing in more firefighters, including six hotshot crews, and engines to try and knock the thing down. Just in the last two days they have increased the containment boundaries to 65%.
SAN BRUNO, CALIFORNIA, AUTHORITIES ANNOUNCED SATURDAY afternoon that the bodies of two more fire victims have been found, raising the official death count to six fatalities. They did not disclose any other details of the discovery or where they were found. Despite yesterday’s announcement that the search for victims has been suspended, San Bruno police are saying that the search with cadaver dogs is continuing.
The police chief also stated that there are seven known fatalities, so any numbers issued are not confirmed yet. All press releases are in agreement that there are six people still unaccounted for. It is not known if they are missing in the fire aftermath, or if they have just left the area without advising the local authorities.
Here is some raw video of the San Bruno “ghost town” via RT tv:
THE FOURMILE CANYON WILDFIRE NEAR BOULDER, Colorado, is almost 80% contained and the fire officials are confident that it will not spread any further. The destructive fire that started on September 6 burned out an area of 10 square miles while destroying at least 169 homes. All of the homes are primary residences, as opposed to vacation cabins, and the damage estimate has not yet been accounted. The Boulder newspaper, The Daily Camera researched the land valuation records of the areas known to be devatated and gleaned a damage estimate of $76.9 million in housing destroyed.
Some 1,000 firefighters from 20 states dug lines and tamped out hot spots. “It’s great. We’re looking better and better,” said Jim Thomas, head of the federal incident response team leading the effort.Fire spokesman Terry Krasko said Sunday operations are beginning to be scaled back and some crews are being relieved. An infrared flight over the burn area showed several areas of isolated heat but no large pockets of intense heat, as previously seen. Firefighters focused on those areas, especially ones near buildings.
Inside the burn area Saturday, crews worked to snuff out smoldering stumps, using shovels, axes and water carried on backpacks. Fire trucks and water tenders ferried water up the mountains and down the canyons while helicopters dropped water on hot spots.
“There is a lot of unburned fuel and a lot of houses at risk,” warned Don Ferguson, a spokesman for the incident command.
The Denver Post is reporting that the team of investigators that is trying to determine the site and cause of the fire is concentrating on a fir pit at one of the homes.
Among the theories being considered in the Labor Day blaze is whether a property owner had a fire in the pit the previous day that wasn’t fully extinguished — or whether he had been burning that morning, according to a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.
The cause of the fire has been classified as “human,” according to the U.S. Forest Service’s latest report on the blaze. But to date investigators have said only that they were still investigating the origins of what was dubbed the Fourmile Canyon fire.
According to Colorado law, a fourth-degree arson charge can be filed against a person “who knowingly or recklessly starts or maintains a fire or causes an explosion, on his own property or that of another, and by so doing places another in danger of death or serious bodily injury or places any building or occupied structure of another in danger of damage.”
The charge is a felony “if a person is thus endangered,” and a misdemeanor if only property is threatened.
Investigators will be working to compare physical evidence and eyewitness accounts to any statements made by the man who owns the property where the fire was thought to have started, the source said.
WE’VE HAD DASH CAMS AND HELMET CAMS, now we’re able to view firefighting through the Cockpit Cam.
KTTV Ch. 5 in Los Angeles recently got permission to install a camera in the cockpits of both a Super-Scooper plane and an Ericksson Sky Aircrane helicopter. They went along for the ride while the planes refilled with water and made their air drops over one of the Los Angeles brush fires.