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Which fire? Curious.
The ICS is pretty good at managing most incidents.
I believe they called it the Pack Creek Fire in June of 2021. I'm just repeating what the local firefighter told us. He said they made them stand down and watch it burn when it was 30 min from being extinguished. He was stunned. It damaged or burned a few homes in the lower canyon and it didn't have to. Sad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Need to look at what the management objectives are when trying to find the rationale behind a prescribed burn:


What were the objectives for the Left Fork?

See -- this is part of my gripe. We know that the objective was NOT to burn the entire drainage. That would require additional NEPA process and approval.

Anyone know how to get around the NEPA process? One way would be to take an existing approved project, complete it, and let "variables that you can't control", (ie: May and June winds, hot dry conditions, etc.) take over and turn it into a wildfire. Just like many of you have already said: "it needs to burn". So, I'll turn that around and ask you: was the objective to ever put it out? Or just "put it out" and let other variables do their thing?

Backcountry: I hope things are changing. But if we compare the Sanford fire (2002) to the Left Fork fire (2022) we can see that in 20 years, not much has changed...


....maybe we're using the old Scofield management approach of "give it time"?
 

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the horse is out of the barn in the west. there aren't many "favorable conditions" to burn in anymore. slash piles need to be burned with snow on the ground when they are a little more difficult to ignite and probably won't get a complete burn. i prefer to burn piles after recent rain and at night when RH is high and you have hours to complete and mop up. that usually require the pile be covered during the rain event but on a small scale this is possible.

i predict you'll see more hose lays on burn operations and more scrutiny prior to the burn. burns conducted away from water or engine access will need air resources on standby.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
this recent report will provide some insight on why controlled burns get out of hand:

https://wildfiretoday.com/2022/06/2...ribed-fire-that-led-to-the-hermits-peak-fire/

From the report, and something applicable with any prescribed burns in the West in 2022:
  • A clear recognition and acknowledgment of long-term drought and climate factors versus short-term weather events would have led toward better situational awareness of the fire environment and could have resulted in more favorable outcomes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
He said they made them stand down and watch it burn when it was 30 min from being extinguished.
In order to extinguish a fire you have to remove one component of the tetrahedron: oxygen, heat, fuel, or the chemical reaction.
Wildland firefighters have limited resources to accomplish this. For example, it's hard to remove the oxygen from a forest fire. It is also hard to reduce the heat (cool with water), or dump chemicals on the fire (retardant). So, a major technique to extinguish wildland fires is to remove the fuel. How do you remove the fuel? One way is to burn it. So, in the example from Sidvisiouser, they said "let it burn", which is a legitimate way to end a fire -- but, the skeptic in me thinks that there are times when this technique is used ignorantly, incompetently, or even (dare I say?) with intent to just plain not put the fire out.
 

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For the Pack Creek fire we don't have a report or documents to know if such a call happened as claimed nor do we know the justification if it did exist. I do know the area it started and I wouldn't be shocked if it was done for safety and not other fire management strategy reasons. The fire started around 345 because of an abandoned campfire by picnickers at a designated site. It's a dead end road and there were 40+ mph winds pushing the flames down that canyon and road towards Pack Creek Ranch. Any leader would be rightfully cautious to rush teams into that situation. The first reports consistently referenced "extreme fire behavior".

There are individuals here with significantly more experience than my measley expired red card but I know I'm skeptical the fire as reported could have been extinguished so easily in the first 48 hours. But maybe future reports will expose my skepticism is misplaced. (*When fire was later contained they did let it burn for management purposes)

The loss at Pack Creek Ranch sucks & it's the inherent risk of owning land in wildfire habitat. That's more evident than ever. If the federal agencies acted negligently I would support recuperation for the land owners but I've seen no such evidence. (I've met Seldom Seem Sleight and found him to be an ornery, entitled ideologue but he was great at preserving human history and the documents lost there are irreplaceable).

Per bigger picture...there are definitely fire loving personnel in these agencies. It takes a special breed to not only want to interact with wildfires but to prescribe them and try to manage them proactively. And, I've never seen evidence they (the people I know or case studies I've seen) acted outside the bounds of law or policy. Any plan to skirt NEPA for intentional burns would inevitably leave a trail of evidence including the inherently leakiness of accomplices. You can't really keep something like that secret for long especially if the fire eventually gets out of hand. That's especially true when you've seen the common conflicts between different departments like recreation, fuels and biology (losing my terminology rapidly).
 

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"The Left Fork Fire ignited on May 9, 2022 on the Dixie National Forest approximately 10 miles southwest of Bryce Canyon City in the Kanab Creek Drainage. It was suppressed at that time. Crews and engines have continuously patrolled and worked the area since that time, receiving continuous moisture and snow over the last two months, with no visible heat or smokes. But due to extreme weather this last weekend, the dormant heat sources are believed to have reignited."

CYA or accurate?
 

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i can't speak to any of the more recent fires but i do recall several times being demobed from a fire only to return to it a week or two later when it blew up again. sometimes this was due to an inadequate mopup perimeter and others the fire was still burning actively and "managed for multiple objectives". the key each time was the forecasted high winds, temps and low RH. in the wrong vegetation type, especially in an incomplete burn, one or two chains in the black is not enough. i've dug 8 foot deep holes to dry mop tree roots in critical areas. it is a pita to do it right, especially without water. what i have seen are lazy engine crews wet mop and have a restart less than 48 hours later.

I was amazed on the salmon challis and later in stanley idaho at the fire behavior compared to utah. when temps hit 70 degress and RH made the mid 30's those fires would blow up. fuel moisture wasn't too dissimilar to ours but that's a mellow day for fire in utah.

in the ICS, most of these people are making calls to the best of their judgement on very little sleep. sometimes other agencies come in and over rule the local agencies which can result in loss of structures or life. moving forward it's going to be touchy dealing with wildfire. our time to manage with it has narrowed and our full out suppression in the 20th century has complicated the matter. now, for the last 50 years we've been putting houses in areas that can't be defended. the math is simple and unfortunate.
 

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"The Left Fork Fire ignited on May 9, 2022 on the Dixie National Forest approximately 10 miles southwest of Bryce Canyon City in the Kanab Creek Drainage. It was suppressed at that time. Crews and engines have continuously patrolled and worked the area since that time, receiving continuous moisture and snow over the last two months, with no visible heat or smokes. But due to extreme weather this last weekend, the dormant heat sources are believed to have reignited."

CYA or accurate?
I admit I was originally confused on details regarding the timeline between May-June. If I'm reading it correctly it looks like both blow ups happened after local teams were in charge of the prescribed burn and then mop up of "Left Fork Fire ". I'm now seeing why PBH is leaning towards incompetence and can't easily defend against that conclusion with that information at hand. I'm willing to understand an unsuccessful mopping up once, even if a wildfire started as a consequence. Twice is tough to swallow given the lessons they should have ideally learned.

Sorry for my mistake.
 

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Sorry I'll still give them a pass. It sounds like there were still people actively looking for heat without finding visible signs since the beginning. Maybe they could find every little ember with Infrared drone or helicopter flights. I don't really know but suspect not.

There have been a couple of house fires reignite after being "put out" locally. And they have a much more controlled environment.

As it stands I'll wish them best of luck in their current endeavors.
 

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Sorry I'll still give them a pass. It sounds like there were still people actively looking for heat without finding visible signs since the beginning. Maybe they could find every little ember with Infrared drone or helicopter flights. I don't really know but suspect not.

There have been a couple of house fires reignite after being "put out" locally. And they have a much more controlled environment.

As it stands I'll wish them best of luck in their current endeavors.
I personally don't consider them incompetent but I can't honestly pushback against that conclusion after correcting my misreading of the situation.

Per house fire...a better comparison would be having it restart twice.

They knew the environmental factors were such that it escaped detection during mopping up the first time. I expect them to learn from that and prevent it from happening again.

I also don't believe they are doing this to get past NEPA but this type of repeated error is what helps fuel such a lack of trust. That's the last thing Dixie NF needs within the local community given the foundational hostility that has existed here for so many years.

I personally believe these mistakes should result in administrative penalties for the individual lead of the fuels project or the local individual overseeing both the fuels manager & fire team tasked with fully putting out the first wildfire; I assume that individual might be the district Ranger. Nothing legal but there should be internal consequences for this preventable outcome. It's hard to regain trust if there aren't meaningful consequences.
 

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I personally believe these mistakes should result in administrative penalties for the individual lead of the fuels project. Nothing legal but there should be internal consequences for this preventable outcome.
That might be difficult currently. Hiring is down in wildland and retention is down as well. It takes several years to qual up to IC3 and even then not many people want that responsibility. At that level you're personally liable for each lifelost on that fire. I'm guessing these controlled burns are IC4 or 5.

bad info in equals bad info out. If they're not testing representative slopes for reaction to their test fires then they are getting bad info back which leads to poor situational awareness.

phrase of the day:
good SA is having your perception match the reality around you.
 

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That might be difficult currently. Hiring is down in wildland and retention is down as well. It takes several years to qual up to IC3 and even then not many people want that responsibility. At that level you're personally liable for each lifelost on that fire. I'm guessing these controlled burns are IC4 or 5.

bad info in equals bad info out. If they're not testing representative slopes for reaction to their test fires then they are getting bad info back which leads to poor situational awareness.

phrase of the day:
good SA is having your perception match the reality around you.
I appreciate that thoughtful take. This year is proving to be especially bad for wildfire logistics. So many interrelated and confounding variables.
 
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