The Sun Valley Idaho area is suddenly a burning question!

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John M

climber
Aug 22, 2013 - 12:20pm PT
Brokedown.. that article goes on to say..

Furthermore, no major fires occurred in those beetle-affected forests in the years and decades that followed the outbreak despite the abundance of dead trees.

He then theorizes that weather is the primary difference, not dead trees. I have no idea, but it is interesting to me how much a fire will lay down at night, with just a 20 to 40 degree drop in temperature, even though the flash point of wood is 572 degrees. This to me points to the significance of weather. I'm not a fire guy, so I don't really know. It seems like dead trees would make for more fierce fires. It takes longer for green stuff to catch, but when it does, it can really go up.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Aug 22, 2013 - 12:40pm PT
John M- You surmise correctly. Dry wood ignites a lot faster/easier than green wood.

Beetles seem to like old and mature trees. My ex and I formerly owned 160 acres that was entirely surrounded by National Forest, and the dead trees there (beetle kill) were predominantly "mature" Ponderosa pines and black pines. The younger trees were still mostly green and viable. We were engaged in cutting down the big dead ones on our property to clear space for a cabin, firewood, and fire control when we finally decided to sell the land. That acreage was burned to the ground last year. It saddens me to see the beautiful trees all turned to dust and ashes.

Edited 10:43 AM.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 22, 2013 - 04:54pm PT
A lot of Idaho burns most-every summer, however as Ron Anderson mentioned: The Big Burn of 1910 set the record:

The Great Fire of 1910 (also commonly referred to as the Big Blowup, the Big Burn, or the Devil's Broom fire) was a wildfire that burned about three million acres (12,140 km2, approximately the size of Connecticut) in northeast Washington, northern Idaho (the panhandle), and western Montana.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Fire_of_1910

That fire also set in motion the concept of complete forest-fire suppression that dominated Forest Service thinking until a few years back, when lower budgets and more fires helped to turn around almost 90 years of fighting forest fires with every resouce available.

One of the leading theories on complete fire suppression in the Northern Rockies was that Lodgepole Pine, which is a "fire-species" would be naturally replaced by longer lived non-fire species such as Douglas Fir & Spruce. That would gradually help to change an entire ecosystem from fire-oriented vegetation to wetter non-fire oriented vegetation.

It seemed to be working in some places. In the 1970's on the upper Middle Fork Salmon drainage, I could see it happening.

However, with current budgets for fire suppression and what appears to be a hotter and drier climate, most all of Idaho has burned in the last 15 years.

Here are Modis Satellite Fire Maps, showing in yellow areas that burned in the Upper Great Basin, I have areas burned for 2006 & 2007, then skip to 2010-to present. The 2007 photo is of West-Central Idaho, but the other photos show central & S. Idaho, eastern Nevada, most of Utah, and parts of SW Montana & Western Wyoming.

2006 fires.  Click to expand.
2006 fires. Click to expand.
Credit: Fritz

2007 West-central Idaho fires shown in grey.  Lowest fire burned a lar...
2007 West-central Idaho fires shown in grey. Lowest fire burned a large area just west of Sun Valley.
Credit: Fritz

2010 fires in yellow, click to expand
2010 fires in yellow, click to expand
Credit: Fritz

2011 fires
2011 fires
Credit: Fritz

2012 fires
2012 fires
Credit: Fritz
2013 fires to Aug 22.
2013 fires to Aug 22.
Credit: Fritz


Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 22, 2013 - 11:19pm PT

A historical note from my working for a Forest Service helicopter fire-crew based out of Hailey Idaho in the late 1960's. We had our Forest Service fire-retardant mixer, which we would climb up to with heavy bags of retardant to mix with water.

The fire-retardant was delivered by huge single-engine WWII surplus TBM Avenger torpedo bombers. The TBM Avenger is the largest single engine propeller driven airplane to operate from an aircraft carrier. During fire-fighing operations, they held up to 600 gallons of retardant. Photo below is a Forest Service file photo of a TBM Avenger.
Credit: Fritz
The planes had a huge rotary-engine which vibrated the air and ground like -------the flight-deck on a WWII Aircraft Carrier.


Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Aug 23, 2013 - 09:46am PT
Fritz-

Another popular ex-Navy airplane is the twin engine P2V Neptune Antisubmarine warfare patrol bomber. At the height of the 2012 fire season in Wyoming last August, there were 2 Neptunes and 2 DC-10s operating from KCPR (Casper) in the fire retardant dropping-role, in addition to several single engine Ag-cats and helicopters. The extreme dryness exacerbated the problem of lots of old growth and beetle killed timber in inaccessible terrain. There were at one time 3 separate fires burning in the Medicine Bow National Forest all at the same time, which spread the fire fighting resources pretty thin. A lot of economic benefit would have resulted from some selective timber harvesting: fewer burned cabins and cremated wildlife, in addition to the revenue accrued to the FS from timber sales.
Yeti

Trad climber
Ketchum, Idaho
Aug 26, 2013 - 01:26pm PT
Fritz: Thanks much for the good wishes. We live in East Fork and on the 15th I watched the Greenhorn burn for a few hours before packing a few irreplaceables up in time to be pre-evacuated. I stashed the priceless things with a friend in a safe zone and joined several other Wood River Valley homeless people for a few days of climbing at the City. Climbing was good and it's amazing how simple life can be without all that 'stuff' in the house. We're in Bozeman but will be back in East Fork this week and if you're going to the city this weekend let me know. Happy Anniversary! Yeti
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Aug 26, 2013 - 01:32pm PT
I remember those Avengers fighting the fires around Salt Lake Valley.
One particularly vivid memory of them making 3 or 4 drops one afternoon on the lower slopes of Mt Olympus just above town. Could see them from my yard but Mom drove us up 39th south to get a closer view (she loved that stuff). Now nothing but houses all they way up to the lowest slabs on Olympus. No range fires up there now.
CalFire retired their P2Vs a couple of years ago.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 26, 2013 - 10:50pm PT
Yeti! I am soooo-glad the Beaver Creek Fire ended well for the Wood River Valley.

It looks like you were able to get out of the smoke and have some fun too.

I really like this photo, taken by the wife of a friend, of his mowing their lawn, while the fire above Hailey backs down Carbonate Mountain.
The solution to uncontrollable  threats in rural America.  Mow the law...
The solution to uncontrollable threats in rural America. Mow the lawn, pull some weeds, & maybe have a drink.
Credit: Fritz

The fire did bring back some memories of being on a 1960's "Helitack" Fire Crew based out of Hailey.
File photo of a copter similar to ours.
File photo of a copter similar to ours.
Credit: Fritz
Our fire-copter was a Bell "bubble-top 47G that seated three.

One statistic I find interesting is: the second summer I worked Helitack, our Forest Service Region (S & Central Idaho, W. Wyoming, N Utah, & N. Nevada) had 16 helicopters assigned. 12 of them had accidents or mechanical failure and crashed during the summer.

The next summer our Vietnam-vet helicopter pilot Danny Danielson, and his mechanic took our copter for a test flight after maintenance. The engine died a couple thousand feet above Hailey Idaho, and Danny “auto-rotated” the copter in to a hard landing in a vacant lot. Danny & the mechanic jumped out of the smoking wreck and ran for safety, as it exploded behind them.




Yeti

Trad climber
Ketchum, Idaho
Aug 27, 2013 - 06:15pm PT
Fritz: The lawnmower operator is Matt Wells and that's the house I stayed in the night I was evacuated before going to the City. The fire wasn't there when I left....Cheers.....Yeti
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 25, 2013 - 05:55am PT
Huh, what?

That's beyond even me!

Whoot!
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 25, 2013 - 10:10am PT
Mouse: I think it's a plug for a video-----maybe, or just ravings by someone better at raving than you or me x 100?

So long as I'm here though. When early Sept. rains fell on the burned area up Greenhorn Gulch.

Looking east down Greenhorn Gulch towards Big Wood River.
Looking east down Greenhorn Gulch towards Big Wood River.
Credit: internet

The results were a series of mudslides. Luckily no more homes were destroyed and it was just a new sort of cleanup for some unlucky residents.
Credit: internet

When I was in the area for a day on Sept 20, the Greenhorn road was closed and it was evident that a sea of mud had covered the valley floor.
Credit: Fritz

Here's an aerial shot of the one home lost in the fire. It was at the mouth of a densely forested side-canyon to Greenhorn and word is that a unstoppable wall of flames came down that canyon and took out the house.
Credit: internet
BJ

climber
Oct 25, 2013 - 10:52am PT
Credit: BJ

That is actually an interesting photo. One hundred feet of unburned defenseable land surrounds a burned out hulk. I have to think the house was not built or maintained correctly in a fire zone
Ain't no flatlander

climber
Oct 25, 2013 - 11:50am PT
Most likely pine needles in the gutters or valleys of the roof. The best construction design and materials are moot if you don't do the annual maintenance.
BJ

climber
Oct 25, 2013 - 11:52am PT
That's what I was thinking.
FlakeBosson

Boulder climber
CA
Feb 15, 2014 - 03:39am PT
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fluffy

Trad climber
Colorado
Feb 15, 2014 - 04:12am PT
Ember loft: It only takes one landing on the the wrong spot. All the defensible space in the world won't help if the house is flammable and the fire is in the canopy or burning house to house. Structures burning in high winds tend to catch other structures on fire.

That Greenhorn Gulch pic is wild Fritz thanks for sharing.
BJ

climber
Feb 27, 2014 - 10:51am PT
/\ Perfectly stated
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 27, 2014 - 10:53am PT
IssacPumpas - I bet he does.
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