Local Lingo: Fire Categories

I am (slowly) learning the local ways around my new home and the firefighting terms used lately.  I thought I would share this article with you so we all can understand the Ramsey Fire updates as they are posted at  The Pine Tree  … I will be looking for them throughout the day, for the obvious reason. I will not be posting each update on this blog, however, if you are interested in Arnold, or it’s surrounding communities in the Sierra Nevada foothills, John Hamilton will keep y’all up to date. Just click  HERE and bookmark it.

A Bit of Fire Lingo for You (Posted by: John_Hamilton on 08/16/2012 09:08 AM)
Ganns Meadow, CA…With the Ramsey Fire there has been quite a bit of interest in the how the USFS categorizes fires. This was sent to us and contains some great information. A single tree would be a Type 5 incident – a truck goes out and monitors or puts it out. Type three teams will have some air support, maybe a hot shot crew or two (Type 1 ‘Elite’ firefighters) , some engines and maybe one or two Type 2 hand crews (less skilled than Hot Shot crews, but still skilled). The Forest has evaluated the local weather, fire behavior and resources at risk in the local area and determined a Type II Incident Management Team is in order. When the Forest “threw the switch” for a Type II team, trailers for offices, a portable mess hall, supplies for a supply cache, porta potties, hand washing units and other necessary items for a “Project Fire” were mobilized. A special group of “Overhead” management staff have also been called, people who’ve spent their careers working to fill jobs on Incident Management teams.

The team will be communicating with the ‘North Operations Center’ (North Ops) in Redding as they evaluate the fire further and begin requesting fire fighters from across the country. They will divide the fire into Divisions or Branches and members of the Team will be assigned to manage each Division of the fire.

The big fire is being broken down into management units and each unit will be staffed with necessary resources to meet the management objectives of the Forest. Since this is human caused, it will be full suppression – the fire will be surrounded with fire line, crews will try keeping the fire inside the line, and when it cools off, the fire will be mopped up 200 – 250 feet inside the line by those Type 2 and Type 3 crews, it will be contained a portion at a time, and finally controlled.

If the fire turns into a Type I incident, that is a big one. The Type I team manages one or more Type 2 teams and all the complexity around a very large fire, the politicians showing up, vastly expanded media coverage, etc. If the fire goes Type I, pay very close attention to the news, wind directions, weather and your property.

Type 2 & Type I teams have Public Information Officers running an information “Trap Line,” a 24 -48 hour update of fire info to local media, posting maps and press releases in local businesses, arranging public meetings, making the world safe for dignitaries, managing TV and news reporters, etc. Find out where the trap line businesses are, and you will get the most up to date info possible, short of a Twitter feed, Inciweb is your next best source.

Ramsey Fire Map: Aug16th Morning Update
Ramsey Fire Map: Aug16th Morning Update

Ramsey Fire Morning Update…1,150 Acres, 30% Contained, One Way Traffic Control on Hwy 4 Through Fire Area

Posted by: John_Hamilton on 08/16/2012 08:54 AM
Ganns Meadow, CA…Today fire crews will continue with fire suppression efforts. Fire crews will be working on preparing an area along the southwestern edge of the fire near the Stanislaus River for planned burnout operation tonight and tomorrow morning depending on fire conditions. The burnout operation is being planned to help secure containment line along an area that is unsafe for fire crews to work in, due to steep terrain and standing dead trees. Steep terrain and limited access along the Stanislaus River is a major concern and are making direct line construction along the fire unsafe for crews.

Purple Haze ?

I woke up early Monday, with nausea and a pounding headache. A smokey haze surrounded our house. It had infiltrated through our open windows during the night and the smell was unmistakable. Vaguely like  campfire, with a sickening aftertaste.

Purple Haze

There were no flames to be seen, and no helicopters or small planes buzzing overhead. This assures me that the fire itself was not too close.  But it’s a huge fire, if  it’s haze wafted over to us and still smells so strong.

For the first time since living here, I closed all the windows and turned on the air conditioning. I set the thermostat  to 84 degrees, and already it was blowing cool air at 6:00 AM because it was 85 degrees in the house, . A downside of having good insulation?

Anyway, I wanted to find out more of what was going on. I call it “staying informed”, but hubby says I’m nosy. Either way, I went  to the local on-line newspaper, The Pine Tree, and poked around awhile.

I found this interesting fire update article that I wanted to share with y’all.  The outstanding photos show the helicopters, jumpers, and air tankers working at the scene of the fire.

Fire Update…Ramsey Still at 250 Acres, 20% Containment, Moderately Active
Posted by: John_Hamilton of The Pine Tree on 08/12/2012 07:22 PM
Cottage Springs, CA…We just checked in with the USFS Dispatch Center in Sonora for the latest on the Ramsey fire as they get the last loads of retardant dropped to shore up the lines for the night. The fire is still being held in the 250 acre range but it is nibbling at the retardant lines and trying to break through. The risk is that with the lack of air drops that it could break through some lines overnight. Since it is down in the canyon an inversion factor can come into effect according to the USFS. This is where even as the temps cool out of the canyon the temps can remain high down in the canyon and keep the fire active. Air Attack 440 from Columbia will resume flight over the fire at 8am in the morning. Helicopters and Air Tankers will resume efforts shortly after. On the fire are 8 engines, 5 hand crews, 1 dozer, plus a water tender and other misc personnel overnight.
We would like to thank James J. Shinnick & Bill Minkel for the latest photos!

Don’t you just love how the reporter writes like he’s chatting with you personally?

The Big Move: Day 2

Saturday, July 21st – The Big Day

After the moving truck left, we locked up and drove our heavy laden vehicles to the mountains. My car was weighed down with books, files, a large ice-chest, loaded suitcases, and my precious computer, Hercules, and all his peripherals. My poor little Honda does not like going uphill with just me inside, so me + another ton went uphill about as fast as a pot-smoking snail.

Hubby, up ahead driving his Big Ass Truck with lots of horsepower, has no clue how frustrated and irritated I am becoming. Add the 99° F temperature to this equation, along with severe nicotine cravings courtesy of  The Bitch, and I am approaching lift-off.

We beat the moving truck up the mountain. I wanted to relax and simply enjoy being here, before the movers arrived, but all Hell broke loose instead.

We heard a helicopter approaching, then two of them circled over the forest area. I thought that they were either hunting down fugitives or part of an Air Show. One of my new neighbors clued me in. The helicopter’s were “spotters”, searching for small fires splitting off from the main fire.  Fire???  Next on the scene would be the small planes called “dumpers” or “bombers”. These would make repeated runs over the fire, dumping fire-retardant or water, depending on the circumstances.  Neighbor Lady was very knowledgeable, but I had lost touch with what she was saying because my brain was too busy with There is a FIRE and it’s burning in the forest next to my new house!!

If you think I’m being over dramatic, this article is from the County’s website :

Fire Update….Vegetation Fire on Forest Service Land Behind Arnold
Posted by: John_Hamilton on 07/21/2012 04:51 PM

Sheep Ranch CA…Crews are responding to a vegetation fire on Mountain Ranch Road and Armstrong Road. This is a full wildfire response including all aircraft from Columbia. More to follow…..Update as of 5:35pm…This fire is actually closer to Arnold than Mountain Ranch on USFS property. The good…fire is still small and doesn’t seem to be spreading much. The bad is that this fire is in heavy fuels. Update as of 5:51pm…Initially the responding engines were accessing off of Sheep Ranch Road. Now they are rerouting engines around White Pines Lake and take Manuel Mill behind Arnold. Update as of 6:13pm…ground units have been on scene for a few minutes. One of the tankers has been released and Helicopter 404 is refueling now and Tanker 82 will probably be released as soon as 404 returns to the fire. Unless something drastically changes they should be able to get this knocked down as soon as the additional ground units arrive. Update as of Sunday Morning…We checked in with the TCU Command Center and the fire was held to less than an acre. In the photos below, the one on the right was taken at 6:55pm last night and you could already tell the plume was significantly reduced…

Forest Fire

Fire Out

Thank you, Mother Nature, for that warm welcome.