Thursday, September 17, 2015

Nonprofit Information Technology Disaster Resource Center provides free technology assistance to fire camp


If you use or have used WiFi service, for fire incident business or to say hello to your sweetie, in fire camps for the Okanogan, Chelan, or North Star/Tunk Complexes, you likely have been using the services of a little known national non-profit technology center on wheels. Providing 24-hour nationwide disaster response, the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) is supported 100 percent by volunteer professionals and corporate partners with expertise in many technology disciplines.

You can't miss the five satellite dishes near the Omak Stampede Grounds and the big bus in the background with the multicolored logo. The ITDRC has committed to the Okanogan Complex Incident Command to provide no-cost technical services, including WiFi to the fire camp bases in north central Washington for a 30-day deployment. Their assistance and services supplement those provided by incident IT specialists and contractors.

ITDRC is a member of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and a trusted resource to emergency-management and disaster-relief organizations across the nation. It delivers no-cost information, communications, and technology (ICT) resources and technical solutions to communities after catastrophic events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and floods. Most members are trained in Incident Command System (ICS) and National Incident Management System (NIMS) basics.

 ITDRC is the only all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity dedicated to providing emergency communications and technical resources to assist communities affected by disaster within the United States. There are a number of for-profit companies and governmental agencies with similar capabilities. There are also some international relief organizations that provide limited resources, primarily in developing countries. Information Technology Disaster Resource Center

 ITDRC, has responded to six disasters (floods,
 wildfire,tornados) in four states to date in 2015. 



ITDRC's communication center and satellite dishes; all 
equipment including the bus has been donated 
by corporate sponsors.


dishNET is one of ITDRC's
 many socially responsible corporation sponsors. 

Equipment, such as radios, cell phones, computers,
 laptops,and Ipads, loaned to community organizations 
during disasters is tracked on a large whiteboard in
the self-contained 40-foot bus/command center.

ITDRC's mission is to prepare and assist communities with
technology continuity and recovery of information systems
during times of disaster. This is fulfilled through education,
planning and disaster response.
ITDRC provides mobile workspaces for two
communications unit leaders of the Complexes.

Firefighter uses free WiFi service
provided by ITDRC in camp




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fire Camp Trivia

How much food and supplies does it take daily to run a camp supporting 1,800 firefighters working on a large wildfire?  Here are a few statistics from the North Pass Fire (Covelo, CA) in Northern California in 2012:

v    900 lbs meat
v    200 gallons coffee
v    28,800 drinks (water, Gatorade, juice)
v    2,000 pints of milk
v    1,200 breakfasts
v    2,000 bag lunches
v    1,500 dinners
v    587 dozen eggs
v    20,000 AA batteries
v    250 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)
v    5,280 pounds of ice or 754 7-pound bags or 264 20-pound bags
v    600 rolls toilet paper for 150 porta-potties
v    5 mobile sleeping units with 210 beds (42/trailer)
v    300+ loads laundry
v    50 hand washing stations
v    450 showers at three shower trailers
v    24 – 26 miles of fire hose

Photo by Jean Hawthorne
Photo by Jean Hawthorne
Add caption



Photo by Jean HawthornePhoto by Jean Hawthorne






Compiled by Jean Hawthorne, PIO, North Pass Fire, 2012

Thank you notes to firefighters from elementary school children

Yesterday's mail to the Okanogan Fire Camp brought five large manila envelopes brimming with charming and heart-felt thank you notes and artwork from elementary school children at Sunnyside Elementary School in Pullman, Washington.  Some of these messages were shared at the 6 am briefing this morning with approximately 100 firefighters and incident staff.  They were very much appreciated and a wonderful way to start our morning!

They've also been posted on information boards around fire camp where many more firefighters will have a chance to read, photograph, and share them with their loved ones.  Several letters were also given to crews on three fire engines driving home to New Jersey this morning for a keepsake of their experiences on the fires in Washington.

From everyone working on the wildfires in the Okanogan Valley area, thanks so much for caring about and thinking of us!  You've made our week!

Here are just a few examples of the many wonderful cards we received from the students.















Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Life in Fire Camp



                      

Many valley residents over the past month, since the fires began, have driven past several locations and seen the seas of tents and trailers of fire camps.  These mini-cities within the Okanogan Fairgrounds, Omak Stampede Grounds, and other locations can house up to 2,000 firefighters and incident management team members at one. The Omak Stampede Grounds currently is home to the Okanogan, North Star, and Tunk Block.       

A fire camp is a small city comprised of all the main components you’d find in any town. Sometimes there are more people living in fire camps than some of the towns hosting the camps!  Base camp is set up rapidly in a matter of days.


Basic needs of employees are covered: food, shelter, security, safety, medical assistance, and supplies to get the job done.  Each person brings his or her own tent and sleeping bag or can check them out from Supply.  There is a range of sizes and shapes of tents, trailers, and motorhomes, though tents by far are the preferred housing for crews, who often move from one incident to another during the fire season.  At one point, the Okanogan Complex had firefighters from 32 states and three countries in fire camp.

                                      


Port-a-potties, mobile shower units, and mobile caterers provide for daily needs.  Two hot meals and a sack lunch are provided each day.  It takes a lot of resources and food to run a fire camp. 









Tents, yurts, and trailers provide office and work space for a variety of staff:  incident command, safety, information, liaison, human resources, planners, operations, air support, and facilities.  There are also people working in logistics, finance, fire behavior, training, incident meteorology, computer technology, transportation, documentation, personnel, GIS, demobilization, and tracking of resources (crews and equipment).    
                   




Work days run long with a 15-hour shift the norm. Crews, teams, and support personnel can have assignments for up to 21 days before needing to take a day off.  Mornings in camp start early, around 5 am for most people, with a briefing at 6 am to hear the previous day’s accomplishment on the firelines, operational plans for the new day, and safety discussion.  Work days end by 10 pm in order for firefighters to get their much-needed rest to start another 15-hour day in the suppression effort.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Defensive Firing Operations Explained


A firefighter on the Kettle Complex in north central Washington explains the importance of and methods behind a successful firing operation. Crews on the Okanogan Complex have conducted similar burnout operations around the perimeter of the fire over the past couple weeks.



Saturday, September 12, 2015


Washington Air & Army National Guard Firefighters
Washington National Guardsmen

Among the many agencies and organizations working on the Okanogan Complex are members of the Washington Air & Army National Guard. Today is the last shift for two 20-person red-card qualified hand crews that have spent the last two weeks helping with the fire-suppression effort. They used hand tools and portable water pumps to knock down flames with dirt or water, and to dig out and extinguish still-burning fuels like roots, peat, and pine needles. Two medics and four Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) members will remain on the Okanogan Complex. TACPs, which are similar to an Army Special Forces unit, are providing support in the communication section as radio specialists. 
Seeing Smoke When the Fire is Largely Contained

When a fire is declared contained, it does not mean that the fire is extinguished or out. Containment signifies that a control line has been completed around the fire, which can be reasonably expected to stop the fire’s spread. Think of a campfire pit or ring with the ground around it scraped down to dirt. If you build your campfire in the ring or pit, you can be reasonably confident that your fire is contained. It’s still a fire—with heat and smoke and flames—but the assumption is that with appropriate action the fire will not spread beyond that dedicated area.


As the high temperature and low humidity result in smoldering areas becoming more active, people near the fire will most certainly see smoke within the perimeter where it hasn’t been seen for several days. This burning activity and smoke will continue to be visible in the interior of the fire until significant rainfall or snow occurs.


The entire fire perimeter is being monitored and patrolled daily by crews and engines. Any fire that threatens the containment lines is being extinguished. In the event that you feel you or your property is immediately threatened please call 911.


 
Smoke from the Okanogan Complex visible from ICP at Omak stampede grounds. 12 Sept. 2015, 5:45 p.m.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Washington Interagency Incident Management Team (WIIMT) 5 assumed command of the Okanogan Complex Thursday, September 10. The incident command post (ICP) is at the Omak stampede grounds.

The Chelan Complex is under the command of WIIMT 3. The ICP is at Alta Lake, near Pateros. The Chelan Complex now has its own phone number and email address: 206-276-9126 and chelancomplexfire@gmail.com.  


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Teams transfer command-

California Interagency Incident Management Team 5 (CIIMT 5 ), under the command of Mike Minton, would to thank cooperators and community members for their support throughout the suppression efforts. CIIMT 5 will transfer command of the Okanogan and Chelan Complexes tomorrow at 6:00 a.m. to a type 2 incident management team-Pacific Northwest Team 3-and a NIMO (National Incident Management Organization). CIIMT 5 will assume command of the Tunk Block and North Star Fires tomorrow at 6:00 a.m.

The Okanogan and Chelan Complex incident command post is moving from the Okanogan County Fairgrounds to the Omak Stampede grounds. The incident command post for the Tunk Block and North Star Fires is also at the Omak Stampede grounds.

Fire information for the Okanogan and Chelan Complexes: 877-574-5148
877-568-0458
Today's air quality report-


Find the latest Washington smoke information HERE

Okanogan Complex and Chelan Complex Fire Update

September 8, 2015, 9:00 AM
Fire Information: 877-568-0458 or
877-574-5148, 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Okanogan Complex
Size: 148,576 acres
Containment: 85 percent
Estimated Cost to Date: 36.9 million
Injuries: 7
Residences Damaged or Destroyed: 123
Total Personnel: 1,232
Committed Resources: 25 crews, 63 engines, 9 helicopters
17 dozers, 23 water tenders, 9 skidgines, 7 masticators

Chelan Complex
Size: 88,684 acres
Containment: 75 percent
Estimated Cost to Date: $17.9 million
Injuries: 9
Residences Damaged or Destroyed: 23
Total Personnel: 629
Committed Resources: 11 crews, 37 engines, 5 dozers, 14 water tenders, 4 skidgines, 1 masticator


CURRENT FIRE SITUATION

Yesterday, firefighters completed work in many areas to increase fire perimeter containment on both complexes. California Interagency Incident Management Team 5 (CIIMT 5), under the command of Mike Minton, would like to thank cooperators and community members for their support throughout the suppression efforts. CIIMT 5 will transfer command of the Okanogan and Chelan Complexes tomorrow at 6:00 a.m. to a type 2 incident management team—Pacific Northwest Team 3—and a NIMO (National Incident Management Organization). CIIMT 5 will assume command of the Tunk Block and North Star Fires tomorrow at 6:00 a.m.

OKANOGAN COMPLEX

The Lime Belt Fire, which encompasses the Beaver Lake Fire, is 132,634 acres and 75 percent contained. Containment on northwest trip of the fire is almost complete, and firefighters expect to finish mopping up the area today. Portions of the western side remain uncontained because crews have been unable to conduct firing operations between an indirect dozer line and the fire perimeter near Forest Road (FR) 42. However, the fire is not threatening to escape the fireline, which is secure. Crews are prepared to conduct the defensive firing operation when weather and fuel conditions are favorable. Firefighters continue to remove fire-weakened hazard trees along FR 42. On the northeast side, firefighters are mopping up and patrolling the canyon rim to keep the fire from spreading into the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area. Crews on the southern end are mopping up, patrolling, and assisting the suppression-repair group.

CHELAN COMPLEX

The fire continues to be minimally active on the northwest tip near Saint Luise Creek and is being monitored by air. Aircraft are also monitoring the southern half of the fire. On the northern half, firefighters continue to mop up the fire perimeter and repair areas affected by fire-suppression efforts.
EVACUATIONS AND ROAD CLOSURES
·        The Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest issued an area closure, effective September 4, 2015, for federal lands in the fire area: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/4534/29367/ or http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/okawen/alerts-notices
·        Okanogan County Emergency Operations Center provides information on evacuations and road closures:

Monday, September 7, 2015


Okanogan Complex and Chelan Complex Fire Update

September 7, 2015, 9:00 AM

Fire Information: 877-568-0458 or 877-574-5148, 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM

 

Okanogan Complex
Chelan Complex
Size: 148,780 acres
Size: 94,301 acres
Containment: 70 percent
Containment: 75 percent
Estimated Cost to Date: 30.3 million
Estimated Cost to Date: $16.1 million
Injuries: 7
Injuries: 9
Residences Damaged or Destroyed: 123
Residences Damaged or Destroyed: 23
Total Personnel: 1,300
Total Personnel: 680
Committed Resources: 25 crews, 73 engines, 9 helicopters
18 dozers, 25 water tenders, 9 skidgines, 1 masticator
 
Committed Resources: 11 crews, 52 engines, 6 helicopters, 5 dozers, 14 water tenders, 4 skidgines, 1 masticator

OKANOGAN COMPLEX
Lime Belt Fire (132,838 acres, 60 percent contained): The priority for firefighters today is to mop up and secure the contained line that they’ve worked hard to establish. On the west side, tree-falling crews, in coordination with resource advisors, will continue to work along Forest Road (FR) 42, removing pre-identified fire-weakened hazard trees. FR 42 will be closed to the public where the fallers are working. Crews on the north side remain focused on mopping up the fire perimeter. Progress is steady but slow because of the turnaround time it takes water tenders to refill and return to the firefighters and engines on the fireline. On the eastern and southern sides of the fire, crews continue to patrol and mop up the fire perimeter and extinguish peat-moss fires off the Green Lake Road. The suppression-repair group will begin working today to repair dozer lines along the Salmon Creek and Spring Coulee Roads.

 
 

Twisp River Fire (11,222 acres, 98 percent contained) and Nine Mile Fire (4,720 acres, 98 percent contained):
Firefighters finished suppression-repair work on the Twisp Fire yesterday. Today, two crews will grid the fire, meaning that they will systematically travel around the perimeter on parallel courses—or gridlines—to ensure they have found and extinguished all areas of heat during the mop-up process. On the Nine Mile Fire today, heavy-equipment operators will finish repairing areas that were damaged by fire-suppression activities.



CHELAN COMPLEX
Although the fire continues to be minimally active on the northwest tip, burning slowly downslope toward Saint Luise Creek, it is producing smoke that residents in surrounding communities might see. Aircraft are monitoring the area and dropping water as needed to prevent the fire from crossing the creek. Elsewhere on the northern end of the fire, firefighters continue to mop up along and inside the perimeter. Firefighters in the suppression-repair group on the southern end of the fire continue to repair dozer and hand lines.

 

EVACUATIONS AND ROAD CLOSURES

·        A US Forest Service area closure, effective September 4, 2015, is in effect for federal lands in the fire area. For a detailed map and the closure order (No. 947) go to http://okanogancomplex.blogspot.com/ (“fire updates” tab).

·        Okanogan County Emergency Operations Center provides information on evacuations and road closures:


·        Washington State Department of Transportation provides additional information about road closures: www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts.


Interactive Fire Area Closures Map for current information on area and trail closures on Okanogan-Wenatchee national Forest. (Zoom in for details)

http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/okawen/alerts-notices/?aid=30418



Wildfire Smoke Images from space:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/fires/main/index.html



Nasa Earth Images:
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/category.php?cat_id=8&m=08&y=2012

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Look up, Look Down, Look All Around!

There are multiple fires being managed in north central Washington. Please use extreme caution when driving through fire areas. Stay alert and be aware of fire equipment and firefighters working along the roads. Drive with headlights on and do not stop or park along the roads to watch the fire or firefighting activities. Also be aware that hazard trees and rocks could fall on the roads. Drive defensively.

***CURRENTLY THERE ARE CLOSURE ORDERS IN PLACE FOR THE OKANOGAN-WENATCHEE NATIONAL FOREST***









 
 
Okanogan Complex and Chelan Complex Fire Update


September 6, 2015, 9:00 AM
 

 
Okanogan Complex
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Size: 148,780 acres
 
Containment: 65 percent
 
Estimated Cost to Date: 33.9 million
 
Injuries: 7
 
Residences Damaged or Destroyed: 123
 
Total Personnel: 1,107
 
Committed Resources: 16 crews, 72 engines, 9 helicopters
11 dozers, 22 water tenders, 9 skidgines, 1 masticator
 


Chelan Complex
Size: 93,896 acres
Containment: 75 percent
Estimated Cost to Date: $16.9 million
Injuries: 9
Residences Damaged or Destroyed: 23
Total Personnel: 704
Committed Resources: 11 crews, 57 engines, 5 dozers,
14 water tenders, 4 skidgines, 1 masticator
 
 


OKANOGAN COMPLEX
Lime Belt Fire (132,838 acres, 60 percent contained): Yesterday firefighters attempted a burning operation off Forest Road (FR) 42, but the high humidity and cloudy skies hampered burning. A firing operation is considered successful if it adequately burns the surface fuels, creating “clean black” and giving the main fire nothing to consume. East of FR 42, where the weather and fuel conditions were more conducive for defensive firing, crews burned all remaining small pockets of fuel between the fire’s edge and an established dozer line. On the northwest side of the fire, skidgines assisted firefighters in their mop-up efforts. Skidgines have a water-holding capacity of eight hundred to twenty-five hundred gallons. They can traverse terrain that an engine cannot, providing a close source of water to firefighters and reducing the amount of hose needed as they mop-up far from roads. Starting today, all of the tree-falling crews will be working for several days along FR 42, cutting down hundreds of fire-weakened hazard trees to ensure public safety when the road is reopened.

 

Twisp River Fire (11,222 acres, 98 percent contained) and Nine Mile Fire (4,720 acres, 98 percent contained):
Firefighters expect to finish suppression-repair work on the Twisp Fire today. They will then focus on repairing areas of the Nine Mile Fire damaged by fire-suppression efforts.

CHELAN COMPLEX
The fire did not grow significantly yesterday. It continues to burn slowly downslope toward the Saint Luise Creek drainage on the northwest side of the fire. Aircraft water drops will be used to prevent the fire from crossing the creek due to the area being unsafe for firefighters to access on the ground. Elsewhere on the fire, crews are patrolling and mopping up along the perimeter and around structures. Firefighters in the suppression-repair group continue to repair dozer lines. Last night was the last night crews will be working a night shift on this fire.


EVACUATIONS AND ROAD CLOSURES

·  Okanogan County Emergency Operations Center provides information on evacuations and road closures:


· Washington State Department of Transportation provides additional information about road closures: www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts.