WILDLAND FIREFIGHTING: First Report: California Wildfires 2013

Powerhouse Fire

As predicted, hot, dry weather helped to spur on a large wildfire in Los Angeles County, CA, near Green Valley. Started near the Department of Water and Power Plant 1 on San Francisquito Canyon the “Powerhouse Fire” burned many thousands of acres. Hundreds of firefighters worked the lines and a half-dozen homes were razed. Dense, dry fuels, steep slopes and aggressive fire behavior required large firefighting aircraft to help slow the rate of spread. A DC -10 with a vast storage capacity painted the ridges on the west side of the fire, stopping its advance before it could enter Kings Canyon, a densely populated and steep canyon. The tanker flew in low and precisely laid in a drenching line with retardant. With the fire threatening barns and corrals, firefighters had to allow horses to roam free for about two hours until animal control officers arrived and rounded up them up.

Jeff Zimmerman


“Grand Fire”: Nearly 2,000 Firefighters Battle Early-Season Blaze

The “Grand Fire” broke out in Frazier Park, CA, just west of Interstate 5 and three miles north of Gorman in the Los Padres National Forest. The fire started on May 15, 2013, and as of May 20 was 90% contained after burning through 4,300 acres of brush and timber. Nearly 2,000 firefighters were supported by dozens of engine companies, more than a half-dozen helicopters and six air tankers, 33 fire crews, six bulldozers and 33 water tenders. A half a dozen fire agency's provided support. The weather at the time of the start was very warm with low humidity.

Due to the lack of rainfall in Southern California, the brush is tinder dry. Many longtime observers have never seen close to 35,000 acres burned in May and this does not bode well for the “brushfire months” ahead.

Cal Fire officials said they already have responded to more than 1,100 wildland fires since the beginning of the year, up 60% from last year. If firefighters were wondering what this wildland fire season would be like, they got their answer.

Mike Meadows