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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Central Valley | North Coast | Environment & Forest Defense
As the drought rages on, so do the fires! The Rocky Fire
As the drought rages on so do the wildfires. The Rocky Fire has grown beyond expectations, and has been one of the State's most erratic fires.
On July 29th a fire broke out in the area of Morgan Valley Road and Rocky Creek road in Lake County California. Since this fire started near Rocky Creek road it became known as the Rocky Fire. All wildfires or forest fires are given names according to the location where they started. The fire grew quickly because of the outside temperatures, the availability of fuel, and the lack of moisture or rain. The Rocky Fire has so far consumed at least 60,000 acres and as of 8/6/2015 is only 20% contained. The fire has used at least 26 aircraft, 301 Fire engines, 57 dozers, 40 water tenders, and over 3,000 firefighters. Air National Guard equipment has also been used to fight this fore.
The longitude and latitude of the fire is -122.4762475/38.8863538
So far 43 residences, 53 outbuildings destroyed, and 8 structures damaged. Counties effected are Lake, Yolo & Colusa Counties. The Rocky Fire has forced the evacuation of 1,480 people, and at least 13,000 have been asked to vacate their properties.
Calfires public information officer Capt. Ron Oatman said within the last 10 years fire activity in California has been erratic at best citing the lack of moisture and the availability of dry tinder for fuel. Within the last 3 years the rain level has been 24-30 inches below normal.
The Rocky Fire leapt across highways and produced numerous spot fires. Spot fires are caused by firebrands or embers dropping into the dry timber and shrubbery setting off other fires that keep the firefighters scrambling. When I drove down highway 20 I noticed there were numerous locations where spot fires occurred and some were left burning. At that point firefighter’s priorities were protecting and saving structures. I had also noticed firefighters were able to save some structures.
In 2012 NOAA released a report titled “State of the Climate Wildfires,” and in the report they cite the drought as the single biggest cause of wildfires in the US. Especially in California.
When I cover fires, one of the things I do is try to connect with locals or people affected by the fires. And in doing-so, you learn what they need to know and I learn what I need to know, and I get insider secrets to access points. One of the issues the locals in the area are dealing with, is getting up to date real time logistics on the hourly progress of the fire.
Their biggest complaints are when mainstream media go in they only use the juicy footage to air, and they never really provide logistics and real-time up-dates on the ground. Residents and Fire official's hold community meetings almost daily, but yet the residents are still thirsting for more information. I took both my police scanners while I photographed that fire and they both became hovering points for the locals. Everyone wanted to hear what the firefighters were saying about the progress of the fire. That kind of info apparently is not being disseminated at the community meetings. And I had 2 people follow me to locations outside the perimeter just to listen in on the scanner. Those scanner mobile apps don't work.
The US Forest Service just released information about the rising cost of fighting wildfires. The Forest Service spent 16% of their budget on fighting fires in the mid 90’s, but now they state they are spending half of their budgets on fighting them, which is now having an effect on other important duties. The Forest Service has been forced to divert funds away from other resources and put the money into fighting wildfires. The Forest Service is also sounding the alarm that wild land or forest fires should be treated and funded as natural disasters like hurricanes and floods. Climate change has also effected the length of fire seasons. The Forest Service said fire seasons are now 78 days longer than fire seasons in the 1970’s. Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said that “to get a handle on the problem of the high cost of fighting wild land fires they must be treated as emergencies and fund them as such.” He also stated that the fact that people are building structures in harm’s way compounds the problem. All this together has created what they now call Mega Fires.
Sources. Rocky Fire General Info
California Fire Map
As California fires rage, the Forest Service sounds the alarm about sharply rising wildfire costs
One of the biggest issues firefighters are dealing with at the Rocky fire are spot fires. Spot fires are starting when firebrands or burning embers set down in area's with an abundance of fuel. Spot fires are causing The Rocky Fire to spread.
This one of the locations where spot fires took off...
This ridge was being heavily protected by firefighters. if the fire crosses that ridge and additional 6,000 structures would be under threat.
Fire behavior in Canyons is chaotic at best. What happens is that Canyons have sides, and fire always rushes up hill. When fore progresses down a Canyon with fuel that is heated by the outside temperatures the heat and fire grow exponentially thus creating very erratic conditions for fighting the fire.
Sometimes if there are propane canisters and or tanks near properties that burn they explode. This was happening here. A structure was burning and propane tanks were exploding sending fragments into the air.
Firefighters have priorities. First is to save lives second is save property third is prevent the fire from growing.
Fire retardant prevents fires from spreading. The retardant is known as slurry. It is dyed red to aid the firefighters. It is also fertilizer, and it clings to vegetation preventing it from burning. It is a powder.
In this photo is a tree burning. The fire is coming out of a limb on this tree like it's being fed by something. The fire was shooting out.
Air National Guard equipment is also being used to fight the Rocky Fire.
When covering or photographing forest fires you must stay out of the way of firefighters. The rules are, keep your flashers on your vehicle. Headlights on and always back into areas where your parking in case you need to make a quick exit. You must always stay out of the way of the fire trucks.
Air National Guard equipment was brought in to help fight this fire. The pink lettering and numbering is sued on their equipment so they can easily be identified.
This is Air National Guard equipment
This is a firemap of the Rocky Fire
Download PDF (53.0kb)
News release attached below for repopulating areas and or homes effected by the Rocky Fire.
Update on the Rocky Fire.
Rocky Fire Incident Information:
"Last Updated: August 9, 2015 8:30 am
Date/Time Started: July 29, 2015 3:29 pm
Administrative Unit: CAL FIRE Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit
County: Lake, Yolo & Colusa Counties
Location: near Morgan Valley Road and Rocky Creek Road, east of Clear Lake
Acres Burned - Containment: 69,636 acres - 85% contained
Estimated - Containment: August 13, 2015
Structures Destroyed: 43 residences, 53 outbuildings destroyed; 8 structures damaged.
Evacuations: As of 11 am Saturday 8/8 all evacuations have been lifted.
For those wishing to donate to the Rocky Fire in Lake County, please see the following message from Lake County... Click Here
Cause: Under Investigation
Cooperating Agencies: California Army National Guard, Kelseyville FPD, South Lake FPD, Lake County Office of Emergency Services, CHP, CDCR, BLM, USFS, Lake Evacuation and Animal Protection (LEAP), Red Cross, Lake County Sheriff, Lake County fire agencies, Salvation Army, Yolo County Sheriff, Colusa County Sheriffs, Napa County Sheriff, Pacific Gas and Electric, Nevada Division of Forestry, NVADG, Cal Trans and California Conservation Corps.
Total Fire Personnel: 1401
Total Fire Engines: 52
Total Fire crews: 39
Total Water Tenders: 9
Incident Management Team: CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 2
Conditions: Firefighters were quickly demobilized from the Rocky Fire to the new Jerusalem Fire. The Rocky Fire containment continues to grow and you may see several small flare ups within the interior. “RESIDENTS ARE URGED TO STAY VIGILANT AND ADHERE TO ANY CHANGES IN EVACUATIONS AND ROAD CLOSURES”. Fire activity and direction can change at any time, be prepared and stay informed. With the elevated fire danger, we are asking everyone to use extreme caution, “Ready, Set, Go”. For more information on how to prepare for wildfires, go to http://www.readyforwildfire.org.
Phone Numbers (707) 967-4208 (Rocky Fire Information Center)"
source: Calfire's Rocky Fire Update