FIRE At The Mill!

We weren’t expecting to have a fire threaten the mill.  The photos below tell the story.

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Firefighters in pencil.

I added this sketch of the firefighters after “Z” at Zeebra Designs called for folks to draw in her post Time Out For Art – YOU CAN DO THIS.  Here you go Z!

The rain has been replaced by wind and dry conditions once again.  Fire returned, only this time instead of in the woods, it was at the mill.  With winds blowing 25 to 30 mph a fire broke out at the mill next door and was being blown right at our site.

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The fire started next door.

It was all hands on deck.  The crew poured in from all over the plant site to fight the fire.

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Everybody pitch in.

Hoses were laid and water was flowing onto the fire.  Soon, the regular fire crews arrived on scene.

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This firefighter is patrolling for spot fires.

We were afraid the fire would spread into the pole stacks, or God forbid, the chip pile.

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Clearing fireline.

Our dozer was building a fireline in case the fire tried to jump the canal.

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The logging trucks had to stop while the fire was being fought.

The air tanker arrived ready to drop fire retardant.

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Air tanker

The effort continued on the ground and we held the fire at the edge of our mill site.

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Eating smoke.

Then the Helicopter arrived with the Bambi Bucket.

Air support.

Air support.

The helicopter was scooping water from the Sacramento River to dump onto the fire.

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Making the drop.

With the spread of the fire was stopped, mop up operations began.

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Mop up operations.

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Mopping up is putting out all the smoldering embers.

Our crew moved fast to get water on the fire and the fire department responded quickly.  Together we were able to stop the fire before it could get into our yard.  As a result of everyone’s quick action this wasn’t a big problem for us.  I’m not certain how the neighbors fared, but I think they did okay also.

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The crew at the other mill were busy battling the fire in their chip pile.

This is just another reminder that we are in for a long fire season this year.

The Concrete Jungle

San Francisco

I was in the concrete jungle of San Francisco today.  It was a cool gray day with lots and lots of folks.  I looked at the dense pack living conditions of the big city and I missed all the space I have in my normal life.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I understand a lot of people love living in the city.  Different strokes for different folks and all of that.  However, a trip to SF makes me appreciate my daily contact with nature.  At my home and at my work.  It is a blessing to be sure.  It seems to me that the people in the big cities must feel disconnected from nature in a way that makes a person want to protect, treasure and guard it.  I think that experiencing it in this way doesn’t leave many people with a true understanding of nature.  At a very basic level I wish that everyone had to go out hunt, kill, clean, cook and eat an animal.  Honestly I believe people would have a greater appreciation of their daily sustenance.

Mandrill at the San Francisco Zoo.

In my firefighter days, many years ago, I worked with a fellow from SF.  He had never left the city before to spend any meaningful time in a rural environment.  He was a very capable guy and after we left our fire training camp I was stationed in Redding and he in Ogo.  Ogo was a fire station West of Redding and was well known for it’s great population of rattlesnakes.  A few days later, both our crews responded to the same fire.  He seemed a little tired, but otherwise in good spirits.  About two weeks later the Redding crew was on a fire with the Ogo crew again, but I didn’t see my friend.  I ask about him.  His other crew members told me he hadn’t been sleeping well because it was too quiet at night, but when the coyotes would howl in the middle of the night he would fly out of bed in a panic.  After about ten days he couldn’t take it anymore.  He packed up and went home.  I never saw him again and the old Ogo Fire Station is long gone.  He never took the time to get comfortable in that setting.  It was sad, but maybe I would have trouble making the same adjustment to living in the city.

I saw this log truck rolling through the Bay Area. Just a little reminder of where wood comes from.

I wish folks from the cities in California trusted our land managers more.  The people I work with love nature as much as anyone and take great pride in the job they do.  Instead, in a time when the science and technology have reached a point that we can accomplish amazing things in the woods, politically we are forced to do a more and more mediocre job by trying to create conditions where no one can make a mistake.

Unfortunately, the desire protect the natural environment by stopping land management is resulting in loving our forest to death.  Death by uncontrollable fires and bark beetle epidemics.  People need to view land management as a tool to improve our forests where people are part of this ecosystem and not as an obstacle to a healthy forest.

Wildfire Returns to Northern California

The Ponderosa Fire from across the valley.

Fire is upon the North State once again.  It has been a few years since we have had fire like this.  Thousands of our neighbors have had to evacuate their homes.  The air is thick with smoke.  The firefighters, air attack, and equipment operators battle the fires to protect life and property.  Please keep the folks in the paths of these fire in you thoughts and prayers.

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From Firestorm In The Forest, a Redtail Publishing Book.

I opened my front door this morning to let the dog out, and the air is clouded with smoke and the smell or fire is strong.  The Ponderosa Fire is burning about 15 miles from where I am sitting.  As this drama unfolds the picture of the forest that I worked on for years is rapidly changing.  Thinned timberstands, young tree plantations and acres of mature forests that I help manage.  For people the fire is a tragedy, but to nature it isn’t good or bad only different.  Nature is violently changing the picture of this forest that I remember.  It will re-calibrate and fill the void created by the fire and a new picture is created.  In the meantime the foresters and loggers work side by side with firefighters to stop this fire.