This fire season in California has been epic in the worst possible way. Not only did we have the state’s largest recorded wildfire, the Ranch Fire, but we’ve had the most destructive fire, the Camp Fire. During any prior year the Carr fire would have been the most destructive fire in California, but this year has been exceptionally bad for wildfires.
I was out checking in on one of our salvage logging contractors on the Carr Fire last week. The timber salvage operations are well under way. Click on the gallery of images to read about it.
This view is from the Highland Ridge Road looking down at the Community of French Gulch. Over the course of a couple weeks the fire made a run at the town three separate times. Many homes were destroyed.
The Carr Fire left hundreds of millions of board feet of dead timber in it’s wake.
It’s like a ghost forest.
Bark beetles immediately invaded the fire killed trees. In the spring they will spread the many of the surviving trees.
This is one of many of our salvage loggers. It is imperative to get the wood to the mills as fast as we can. It begins to deteriorate as soon as it’s dead. The tractor is skidding trees to the processor,. The processor cuts the trees into logs, while the loader sorts the logs into decks.
Here the processor manufactures trees into logs.
A couple of big logs waiting to be skidded into the landing.
On steeper ground we use track laying skid cats to move the trees to the landing. The land around Redding that burned is very steep.
The logs get sorted by size and species while waiting to be delivered to the mill.
The trees don’t always burn completely during the fire, but the heat alone is enough to kill them.
This part of the forest had been thinned before the fire. By spacing out the remaining trees the fire burned at a lower intensity. The fire wasn’t as hot, the flames were smaller, and the remaining trees were resilient enough to survive the fire. Thinning these trees in a logging operation saved them.
Even now, weeks after the fire was contained there are still hot spots out in the burn. We may still find some hot spots in the spring.
Since I wrote this post the rains began in earnest. Our fire season has come to brutal end.
The Sacramento River Canyon caught fire today near Pollard Flat. Another fire and this one is near the Hirz Fire. This is the Delta Fire.
It started just after lunch and began building its own pyro-cumulus cloud right away. Just what we need here, another wildfire. Lamoine and other river communities are being evacuated.
I’ve taken so many picture of the sunsets during the Carr Fire. Here is another set. I took these about ten days ago. We are still getting the surreal sunsets. The fire is contained and the burnout operations are done. Other fires are burning in the area. We won’t be without the smoke anytime soon.
With all the fires burning in California there has been a lot of discussion about logging to reduce forest fuel. Doing so makes our forests more fire resilient. There is fear among many people that logging of any kind will destroy our forest. The truth is the the fires are destroying our forests. This is a short video of such a logging operation from last year on the Lassen National Forest. The Forest Service prepared this project. Our company bought and logged the timber sale. The result is a healthier more resilient forest.
Friday was another difficult day in Redding as the Carr Fire continued to spread. Overnight the fire grew toward the southwest near Igo and to the north of French Gulch.
Our sky looks look toxic. Here are some views from the last two days.
The view from our backyard Thursday night
The next photos were from Friday evening.
Looking northwest, the major smoke cloud was moving east.
This was last nights view from the backyard.
Looking north over the pond.
This morning the sky had an apocalyptic pall over it. Colors were shifted from the smoke filtered light. Ash had fallen on our property. Now our home isn’t close to the fire. We aren’t in any danger. Most of our friends are much closer. Many have had to evacuate. With Google Earth I was able to determine that we were 22 miles from the fire as the crow flies. That’s how far the ash had traveled.
This is the sky we woke up to this morning.
The sun was a big red ball through the smoke.
This was the view from Anderson on Monday afternoon soon after it started.
This is the same view today.
When it broke out it was big enough to create it’s own weather. Huge cumulus clouds formed over the smoke column.
A lone airtanker heads toward the fire on Monday. The planes have been grounded for the last two days for lack of visibility.
Conditions on the fire improved enough for the airtankers to get back into the fight this afternoon.
Updated hot spot map Thursday afternoon.
Based on latest hot spot map the fire may have spread south of Highway 299 near Redding. This is a terrible development. Hopefully the firefighters can stop the spread. Fortunately, it didn’t reach the forecast high of 113 today. It just made it to 111. Nevernind, I just found out it did reach 113.
Logging Crew Firefighters.
This story appeared on KREM2 in Spokane. I’m heartened to see a support for an active strategy to deal with the wildfire dilemma. In defiance of popular conventional wisdom that harvesting trees is a bad thing. Finally, using harvesting as a tool for healthier forests. It too long overdue in the minds of the public.
Here is another installment of the 60 Second Forester by Frank Barron.Today, he’s talking about Fire History in California and what he says is true for most of our western forests. Managing the fire ecology of these forests is tricky business especially now when our forests are so out of balance ecologically. Overgrown forest resulting from over 100 years of all or nothing wildfire suppression have set the stage for the massive bark beetle infestations and enormous conflagrations. Only through the use of forest management can we bring back fire resiliency to our forests.