Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Western Fires

I had a nice comment yesterday from an observer asking me about western fires.

The first question is what do they mean when they say a fire is so many percent contained?

This is referring to a defense line being built around the actual perimeter of the fire. This is usually either built by hand or dozer.

So if a fire is 65% contained, they are saying they have built a line around 65% of the fire and that it should not spread beyond that boundary.

It does not mean that the stated percent of the fire is out.

Sometimes a containment line is built and then winds pick up and the fire jumps the defense line.

As you can imagine this is VERY frustrating for firefighters, but part of the reality.

The second part of the question was where does all the fresh water come from to fight fires, given that water isn't as plentiful in the west as in other parts of the nation.

The water comes from area lakes and reservoirs typically. I imagine there are politics involved and which lakes provide the water likely depends on each individual fire.

If towns are immediately threatened, I would think that higher priority lakes (public reservoirs for example) are allowed to be used as a source.

If the fire is serious but not threatening an immediate large population, they probably use lakes that aren't a major water supply source.

That is just my opinion, but I do know in general much of the water you see dropped from air tankers and helicopters is scooped up come from lakes.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting stuff! Thanks for the knowledge.

    Yesterday we had some cool looking clouds roll through before the rains came. It's not often we see stuff like this around here. Feel free to check the photos out.