Thursday, August 31, 2006

Washington Wildfires...and Tim!

columbia complex

Here Is an article about our wildfires, and for those that like to explore, a link to even more information…
Tim’s letter is at the bottom of this..
Growing Wildfire Forces Evacuation Orders

August 26, 2006

By Associated Press

DAYTON, WASH. - Tourists hoping to get photographs of a DC-10 airplane on fire duty and area cabin owners were evacuated Saturday from the perimeter of the Columbia Complex of fires in southeast Washington state.
People had gathered outside the fire line, "wanting to get pictures of that plane," fire spokesman Virgil Mink said. The scattered evacuations came late in the second day the DC-10 was on active fire duty, able to carry as much as 12,000 gallons of fire retardant on one run - eight times as much as anything else.
The area of concern was between local Pioneer Memorial Park and the Umatilla National Forest on the Washington-Oregon border, so far beyond reach of the flames.
"There are a lot of tourists out there," Mink said. "People like to see what we do."
The privately owned DC-10 - available at a cost of $26,000 an hour, three hours minimum - can drop a swath of retardant a mile to a mile and a half of forestland 50 feet wide, he said.
"You can run through with a drip torch" and burn potential fuels on the edge of the fire to prevent the flames from spreading, leaving behind firefighting gear required when drops cover smaller areas.
By nightfall, the fire had charred 70,000 acres, or nearly 110 square miles, fire spokesman Charlie Armiger said.
The fire was about 10 percent contained, Mink said - mostly in the southeast corner "where the Coppei fire used to be" before four fires, all started by lightning strikes Monday, merged into the Columbia Complex.
There were 735 firefighters on the scene Saturday, with more en route. There were 55 fire engines, 16 five-engine strike teams, 15 dozers, three helicopters and 23 water tenders on the fire. Fire commanders were releasing some larger engines that were less than useful in the rough, rugged country, Mink said - they're needed elsewhere in the West this busy fire season.
The weather has been cooperating with fire crews around the state, with cooler temperatures, increased humidity and calm. Hotter, drier and windier weather was expected Sunday and Monday - with highs in the 90s - followed by a cold front late Monday. "That's the good news," said meteorologist Jonathan Fox with the National Weather Service in Spokane.
There could be some "hit-or-miss showers" through the week, he said, but "not enough rain to put out the fires."
In north-central Washington, the Tripod Complex of fires had burned through 135,694 acres, or about 212 square miles, spokesman Greg Thayer said. That blaze was 48 percent contained - up from 45 percent Friday.
"The northern end of the fire had active burning today but so far has stayed within our lines," Thayer said.
There were 2,310 firefighters and support personnel on site, working with 12 helicopters, 78 engines, 26 dozers and 74 300-gallon water-tender trucks, he said. The complex began last month as two fires - the Spur Peak Fire that began July 23 and the tripod Fire that starts July 24. Both were sparked by lightning.
"We have just four miles of fire line yet to be built, so we're coming against that just fine." Thayer said. "If we can keep this thing within itself, we'll be by the end of this week into fairly heavy mop-up. But we've got some really bad burning conditions coming in Monday so we don't want to get people's hopes up too high.
There've been only minor injuries on the fire, he said - bee stings, sprained ankles and the like. Given the rough country, "we're just amazed at our good luck. Maybe we shouldn't be talking about it."
Also in northcentral Washington, the Flick Creek and Tinpan fires had each seared more than 5,000 acres, roughly 8 square miles. The Flick Creek fire, burning on the eastern shore of Lake Chelan in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, was 40 percent contained.
The Tinpan fire in the Glacier Peak Wilderness was being allowed to burn naturally within preset boundaries.

I received a letter from Tim today, telling me that he was over in Walla Walla with the Columbia Complex fire. He is not out fighting the fires himself, as he still needs to be evaluated as far as his skills go, but he is with the Kitchen Crew, feeding the firefighters.
Here are a few lines from his letter:

Hi Mom, I’m doing ok. I’m over in Walla Walla now and will be for a approx. 2-3 weeks. It’s Craxy over here, They have people from Arizona, Montana, Alaska, Nevada, Virginia. There are over 1000 people here. I am with the kitchen crew, which means not much sleep for anyone! Someones got to feed these guys! Approx. 70,000 acres have burned up, homes destroyed. They have a DC-10 doing retardant drops. It’s the first time using them in Washington. We got them for 3 days. They drop 50 feet wide and a mile long! I am in Aw! (sic) We work from 3:00 AM until 8:00 am, then take a 3 hour break, then serve dinner. Not much sleep and Hot as HELL! I have never seen anything like this, Guys come in to eat, Hot, tired, filthy hungry and leave satisfied. I guess we are one of the best field kitchens around. We get fed well. T-bones, pork chops, Halibut…ok gotta go….Love you Mom. Tim.

So I guess I will not be going over to see him this week either…At least I know he is safe and well, and sounds like he is really enjoying his time! LOLOL I must keep reminding him that he is supposed to WANT to leave there when his time is up!

Tim has always wanted to be a firefighter, or work in the woods, and if this is how he will be able to do that then so be it. He really is a good kid! He is just on the wrong path, and hopefully this will put him on the right one. Maybe this will help him see that the life he was leading was harmful to him and to others, and help him back to the straight and narrow. He loved Boy Scouts, and he loved being in the woods and camping, and fishing when went.

The wildfires in this state are really bad right now. The biggest one has burned over 130 square miles, and is just 4 miles from becoming an international fire. The canadian crews are helping from the North, hoping to get it under control.

We had a storm blow through yesterday, which lowered the temperatures a wee bit, and snow fell on the higher elevations, but it is expected to get hot again this weekend. Here is hoping that they will be able to get these fires all under control really soon. IT is so dry and hot over there.

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