In Colorado wildfires, ‘worst in state history’, why won’t the Forest Service use the biggest firefighting tool available?

Boeing 747 Supertanker Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) in action

AP labels the 2012 Colorado wildfires worst in state history in this story.

My friend and fellow climate skeptic, nationally syndicated radio host Lars Larson, asks some pointed and pertinent questions about what appears to be some of the most idiotic policy ever devised by government. Since we’ve been covering some of the folly of trying to link the fire to global warming, I thought this government folly with trying to put it out would go along with the issues discussed here. – Anthony

He writes in an email to me from Friday:

I have new questions rolling around in my head every day but there are at least four things I know for sure this morning.  This year the U.S. Forest Aervice will spend north of a billion dollars fighting forest fires across America.  Billions of dollars worth of trees owned by the American people will go up in flames.  And a $50 million dollar airplane that could put those fires out faster sits on the ground in Arizona because the U.S. Forest Service refuses to hire Evergreen Aviation.  Now you may be saying, “There must be a good reason”.  That’s what I thought, but then I remembered that government is capable of multibillion dollar stupidity on a daily basis.  The Forest Service offers no explanation whatsoever. 

And evergreen aviation points out that their 747 supertanker fire fighting plane has been hired by Mexico and Israel to fight fires and earned high marks.  It drops ten times as much water as the biggest forest service tanker in use…and does it at half the cost per gallon.  It’s big enough and fast enough to cover fires anywhere in America…and the forest service refuses to use it…and it’s your forests that are going up in flames.

Today’s statement from Evergreen Aviation about why the U.S. Forest service refuses to use its 747 flying supertanker firefighting plane.

http://www.evergreenaviation.com/pdf/Supertanker_Statement_062912.pdf

==========================================================

Date: 6/29/12
Evergreen International Aviation Statement Concerning the Supertanker

We felt compelled to release this statement due to the overwhelming amount of calls we have received concerning the availability of the Evergreen Supertanker. We at Evergreen are saddened by the fire devastation now taking place in many Western US states. For over 60 years, we have supported the US Forest Service in its important mission to battle and control fires, and it is our desire to continue this rich history of service. While our helicopters continue to work fires for the State of Alaska under State contracts, unfortunately, our Boeing 747 Supertanker Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) aircraft awaits activation with the US Forest Service.

We have never been told why we have not been activated by the US Forest Service, so we can only speculate as to why we face this outcome:

1. We were offered a Call-When-Needed (CWN) contract a few years ago by the US Forest
Service (proving our technical viability), but we were never called into action resulting in
a multi-million dollar loss to our company as we were required to maintain and have
flight crew available should we be called. The only contract that will sustain a VLAT
program is an Exclusive-Use contract, which provides an income stream to sustain the
program even if the asset is not utilized. We invested over $50M to develop this asset in
the firm belief that we could better control fires as we proved in Israel and Mexico under
CWN contracts that we could afford to offer at the time.

2. There have been recent changes to the US Forest Service procurement policies. Today,
only small businesses are eligible for contract awards concerning air tanker assets;
Evergreen is not a small business and, therefore, is excluded from consideration for any
award.

3. The US Forest Service’s specification for Next Generation Air Tanker aircraft limits tank
size to 5,000 gallons. The Supertanker’s tanks hold about 20,000 gallons, which is
considered outside the USFS specification. The USFS just awarded contracts to four
small businesses with aircraft equipped with these smaller tanks, and excluded the
Evergreen Supertanker. Since World War II, tank capacities have been in the 3,000 to
5,000 gallon range, yet we continue to face the growing threat from mega fires today. We
believe the Supertanker represents an overwhelming response to this growing threat.

Please contact your state representatives in Washington DC to demand an examination of their current procurement policies concerning VLAT aircraft. The US Forest Service says it best: “Only YOU can prevent wildfires.”

==============================================================

Here’s Lars Friday interview with Evergreens VP:

Here’s Lars interview with Evergreen three weeks ago:

Here are videos of tanker that could be fighting fires in Colorado and elsewhere…that have killed Americans, burned houses, destroyed public property and timber

Where’s the President?

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167 thoughts on “In Colorado wildfires, ‘worst in state history’, why won’t the Forest Service use the biggest firefighting tool available?

  1. “Why won’t the Forest Service use the biggest firefighting tool available?”

    It’s official policy: don’t let a good crisis go to waste.
    They need the scare of this to further the AGW-agenda. Be prepared for worse to come.

  2. Wasn’t Evergreen involved with some CIA operations in the Reagan era?

    It would be so politically incorrect to hire those folks. . . . . . .

  3. Good ol’ Lars. Used to be a broadcast reporter in Oregon. Can’t remember which station (an Oregon affiliate of NBC, ABC, CBS, or channel 12). He can be a conservative idiot at times. But in this case, he’s done some right good reporting.

  4. The simple answer is firefighting is big business and big money and big union. Putting the fire out ruins the gravy train. This is how firefighting works on every level. They wait until the fires are out of control, then come in to stand there pretty much.

    , I’ve seen it with my own eyes in my high-fire area. It’s intentional.

    Most logging has been banned, enabling incredible danger and a giant anti-fire infrastructure with all the funding. The warmist narritive fits nicely with Big Fire.

  5. I can think of one reason why governmental organisations prefer to pursue policies that make disastrous situations worse. They hope to use the resultant adverse publicity for their own ends, that these aims are usually counter to the wellbeing of ordinary people is simply irrelevant to their way of thinking.

  6. Anyone who thinks the paper-pushers at the Forst Service and other government agencies in charge of our tax dollars have any remaining control over the idiotic rules, legislation and regulations for handing out contracts, you are sorely mistaken. I have worked with government contracting officers and all the accompanying red tape for years. There is no fixing it. For the work I have done with the defense agencies and DoE as a contractor, I can only offer the following true quote from one of the engineers who supervised our work: “Mike, the Government got rid of all their good engineers, policy-makers and contracting officers decades ago ago….and now you have me.” Translate that to mean: “we don’t know what we are doing and there is no leadership to fix it”.

    As with all great great societies and governments throughout history, we have woven such a tangled we of meaningless laws and regulations, that we are now slaves to a government in decline.

  7. It’s pretty much a crime that the Forest Service would let a asset like this sit around. Obama was out here in Colorado hugging people but never lifted a finger to get any of the large tankers under contract. There is also a tanker based on a DC-10 that doesn’t have a contract.
    One other thing, the company that makes the water bomber pallet for the C-130 is apparently bankrupt so you won’t see any more C-130 tankers than we already have. Ironically they went bankrupt because the government took so long to certify the installation.

  8. It looks like it looks like ,where did we see this before ? The BP oil problem. On whose watch did that happen.?

  9. The perfect exposé that should be at the top of Drudge … I left them a link … now let’s see if they offer it.

  10. Pamela Gray says June 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Good ol’ Lars. Used to be a broadcast reporter in Oregon. Can’t remember which station (an Oregon affiliate of NBC, ABC, CBS, or channel 12). He can be a conservative idiot at times.

    I suppose opposing spending OPM (Other People’s Money, and collected on the threat of IRS jail-time) on pet social causes is the reason some cite to think that way … but, I’m curious, Pamela, can you give a specific example of made you think of him that way ?

    .

  11. Yes, another environazi environmental disaster caused by trust in Big Government.

    It just so happens that this week’s Westword (weekly in-depth free news in Denver) has an article on the Pine Bark Beetle. There is good science to the effect this critter is 2000 feet higher in elevations than it has ever been in the Holocene before, and is producing two generations per summer, also new. I

    Instead of blaming forest mismanagement, we get the global warming claptrap. The warming is too trivial to cause such a dramatic effect, the beetles are changing from Colorado to Canada. One can find out plenty more about forest mismanagement from Iain Murray’s “The Really Inconvenient Truths.” This refusal to search for actual causes threatens all the US’s and worldwide forests.

  12. Here is another stupid rule enacted (don’t know federally or locally). After the 1996 Buffalo Creek forest fire (also in Colorado), the governor cannot activate the National Guard to help in a forest fire situation until “all commercial options have been exahuasted”. Why??? Because the Colorado Army National Guard costs significantly less AND the small business’s can’t make money fighting fires when the National Guard is involved. Don’t know why a business is allowed to make a profit on the hardship of others. Since this is a family friendly site, I won’t share my feelings beyond FACEPALM!

  13. Look, maybe I’m starting to go a bit tin-hat on the subject of fire. But what explains the odd indifference to this massive source of atmospheric carbon, from the very people who preach loudest about “carbon pollution”? Warmists here in Oz are cool on mitigating bushfire, they don’t like to calculate its “footprint” and they don’t even like to talk about it.

    Our climate changed – in 2007, to be exact – though some did not notice, or pretended not to notice. Eastern Australia has undergone massive regrowth, with oceanic winds dominant and abundant rains coinciding with reduced clearing, forestry and development.

    When climate changes again, maybe when the PDO flips back, and westerlies dominate in late-winter/spring, as in the nineties, all that regrowth will be exposed to fire on a national scale.

    It won’t be a new thing, but it’s a hoot to think that when the conflagrations are threatening or occurring, there will be bureaucrats and boffins advising on the carbon emissions from different brands of fire-pumps.

  14. Saw this lovely beast in action in Alberta about 5 summers ago.A thing of beauty. 1/4 mile wide and 3 mile long swath in one pass. But as others here have said,never let a good crisis go to waste. After all,if the firefighters can’t “fight” the fire,they have no job! Think of the kiddies!!!(union exec’s kiddies in this case)

  15. “In Colorado wildfires, ‘worst in state history’, why won’t the Forest Service use the biggest firefighting tool available?”

    Well, one thing the US Forest Service and the present US administration can’t say:

    . . “We’re doing everything possible …

    … if they haven’t given Evergreen International a call and made use of this fire-fighting water-delivery asset …

    .

  16. The only 747 that Obama gives a real workout is Air Force One flying back and forth across the country to fundraisers.

  17. A truly amazing private enterprise capability. I expect the real rason is somethoing to do with political donations. And, to the questioner “where is Obama” .. his minions will be in Paris on Jul 4th for a massive election fundraiser….dunno how he will be able to avoid foreign intervention in his electoral campaign.

  18. too bad a threatened city or a state can’t just go hire the thing to do a strategic drop or two to save their bacon and let the obamination and the feds explain why they didn’t do it.

  19. When all of the facts come out about the federal response to the oil spill, this will no longer be a mystery.

  20. Very simple answer to why Colorado is allowed to burn.
    It’s a red state.

    Just like Gibson Guitars being raided, but not Martin.

  21. The main problem might just be that super-tanker can’t be Green enough. The Forest Service is drastically low on tankers anyway, but that big brute can’t fit into the Green Agenda.

    http://www.gazette.com/articles/obama-140889-edge-rages.html

    TOWN HALL: Obama shrunk aerial firefighting fleet (poll)
    Green agenda targets slurry bombers

    As to the number of tankers:

    Washington-based Human Events magazine reported in September of 2011 that nearly half of the federal government’s air tankers sat idle at a California airport, as wildfires ripped through national forests throughout California, Texas, New Mexico, and other states.

    It turns out the Obama administration ended a long-standing contract, leaving the Forest Service with only 11 tankers to battle 50 wildfires that were burning nationwide. A decade ago, the Forest Service had 40 firefighting tankers.

    The Obama administration canceled the government’s contract with Aero Union — a company with 60 employees that had been under contract with the Forest Service for 50 years. Though it canceled that contract, the administration had no plan for an immediate replacement. Aero Union CEO Britt Gourley told Human Events the administration provided no details on why the contract was ended.

    “They didn’t want to talk about it,” Gourley said of Obama administration officials.

    As to the Green issue:

    Environmentalists have fought the use of slurry for years, which may or may not explain why Obama seems to lack enthusiasm for a robust tanker fleet. Environmentalists sued to stop the use of fire retardant after it killed 50 steelhead trout in the Santa Ynez River near Santa Barbara, Calif., in 2009. An earlier lawsuit involved the accidental dumping of between 1,000 and 2,000 gallons of fire retardant into Oregon’s Fall River in 2002, a mistake that killed all fish in the river. That mishap involved a slurry formula that is no longer used.

    As a result of the most recent lawsuit, the Forest Service adopted rules that prevent dropping slurry within 300 feet of streams and lakes except when human lives are at risk. Forest officials say the rules won’t harm firefighting efforts.

    Spend a billion plus dollars fighting with the equipment they got, let hundreds of thousands of acres burn causing many millions of dollars of damage with the disruption and likely injury and death of many humans.

    But since that 20,000 gallon fast-flying tanker plane can’t be precise enough to guarantee that no slurry will wind up in in some water somewhere, it is all worth it to save the fish.

    The joke is Green is the new Red. Now Fiery Red is the new Green.

    Oh well, afterwards they can put up lots of windmills without worrying about clearance above treetops or interference from birds. The Greens will be very happy, between that and the fish they saved.

  22. It’s not just that. A large chunk of North America’s firefighting capacity is currently sitting idle due to the current lack of fires in Canada. But most of Canada’s firefighting helicopters cannot be used in the US because they aren’t twin-engined and thus can’t legally be flown for firefighting work. This occured despite the fact that single-engine helicopters like the Bell 214B are actually superior firefighting platforms than the twin-engined helicopters used in the US (mostly the Bell 212 series and Bell 412 series) which have around half the useful payload of a 214B, especially up in the mountains.

  23. I have to wonder what the turn around time between a 747 vs a 5000 gallon drop plane would be, also the precision of the drops due to maneuverability in mountainous terrain.
    But what do I know, and no the fire is not approaching my house.

  24. Looks like they decided to make the sequel for the movie Dumb an Dumber after all, is being made at the US Forrest service.

  25. The stupidity of government never ceases to amaze me. Along with the irrational idiocy of not incorporating better forest management practices like the thinning of forests to reduce forest fire impacts (as Native Americans did centuries ago), this makes me want to just go outside and scream. Unfortunately, it’s too hot to do so (and yes, I know AGW has nothing to do with the fires or the hot weather).

  26. …Because it doesn’t work. Looks good for the Tee Vee news and punters. Evergreen is a well known CIA contractor looking for media hype to suckle more lucre from Uncle Sugar.

  27. Try this, let your back yard go untouched for 5 or 10 years. Don’t even walk in there! (I.E. closed roads) Then toss a match to it in summer and see if you can put it out before it burns your house down. Good luck.
    To make it more of a comparison cut garden hoses from your household budget during this period.

    P.S. Anthony, I was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel syndrome 4-5 years ago. I had it so bad it would keep me up at night. Since then have learned two simple stretches that completely cleared it up:

    First, hold your arm stiff in front, pull your fingers back till it almost hurts, 6-8 times then alternate.

    second, place fingers of one hand on the back of your hand, thumb on heel of palm and bend hand toward wrist, again till point of pain 6-8 time then alternate.

    Really worked for me, no symtoms whatsoever now.

  28. Why doesnt Evergreen just fly their plane up to Colorado Springs or Denver and park it at the airport? Then, hold a press conference with some locals!

  29. Is this decision making process just the result of stupidity and incompetence, as is usual, or is it in fact a deliberate Democrat policy to pursue a ploy that make a disastrous situation even worse, in order to further for their own “ecological-socialist” intentions? The fact that this policy endangers people’s lives, destroys their homes and community is quite irrelevant to their fanatical conscience.

  30. Evergreen is one of those evil corporations (queue death star music) that the left hates. If they put the fire out, the enevitable economic stimulus money (broken window falacy) would not be needed.

  31. In the UK our Environment ministeress is blaming her department’s poor performance on planning for floods on the “Global warming”. I suppose it must be the same all over the world, blame the CO2 bogey man, and it will get them (the politicians) off the hook. Of course the real reason we had flash floods in the UK from bog standard summer storms was the ground is now concreted over and the streams engineered into walled channels that canna take it captain. Though It doesn’t help when 18 year old activists go on the TV saying they have never seen weather like it before.

  32. Mike C has good idea. But if Everygreen did that, they would be blackballed forever. Try making your potential employer look bad and see what it does for future business.

    The question has to be put to the Governors when they are at a public meeting about the damages of wildfires, why the best-of-the-best firefighting equipment that foreign countries used is too good enough for Americans with homes in danger.

  33. Didn’t give to the right re-election campaigns.

    They’d be swimming in sweet taxpayer money.

  34. Why are people building expensive homes in known mountain fire country and then expecting taxpayers to protect them from their folly?

  35. Robin say June 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm
    Anybody know if Evergreen is unionized or willing to always pay Davis-bacon wages?

    Make that the “Davis–Bacon” * (re: Davis–Bacon Act of 1931) or my mouth may start watering (think: “Beggin’ Strips Dog Snacks” and the commercials they sponsor) …

    (Who doesn’t love bacon!? The smell; the aromatic essence!!)

    * or Robert L. Bacon of Long Island, NY (for which the bill was partially named) might feel slighted, maybe execute a 1/4 turn in the grave, etc.
    .

  36. As an former Aritanker pilot near 10 years, and still keep up with the business-may actually go back if things fall in to place this summer, Bill Gabbert’s blog: http://wildfiretoday.com/
    is an excellent source. No agenda just the facts. There are the two DC-10’s 910 and 911.
    911 is not used much for what ever reason 910 is parked. Like Evegreen’s 747. Here are some pertinent bit of infromation:
    1. We used to have as recently as 2004 44 tankers. First the USFS decided that the Tankers
    Should be more modern, i.e. Jet powered. OK. Out go the four-engine Douglases 4/6/7.
    The best safety record? Three fatals in on 35 years? -check that against the Neptune(P2)
    Oh but they are Old! Now the Newest Convair 580’s that are being used from Conair in Canada,
    good airplanes, and people, but the newest 580 is four years older than the oldest DC7 which are
    still around-on Oregon and California contracts,they are 3000 gallon Tankers…
    The former Aero Union P-3s are still aournd but for how long no one knows. Part of
    Aero Union’s problems were internal and not as politically motivated as reported.
    But, these 3000 gallon aircraft wil not be round much longer…
    2. Policy changes, it appears that Airtankers are now not used on inital attack. mainly due to
    scarcity, they are not used until the fire is over the hill..Not doing forest management, including reducing fuel loads, there are areas that have 30-40-50 year old reprod, and are inches apart.
    useful timber but are very suseptible to crowning fire.
    3. Lack of a real replacement. There is progress here like the Avro/BAE 146 a nifty little
    ex-regional airliner with four ( love four engines for an airtanker) engines, and if they get the coverage right, good tanker. The key here is inital attack. This would help in corralling the
    fires, as the start. Like Waldo Canyon… Others, coming on include MD-80’s (Douglas) and
    Bombardier/Dehavilland Twins all former Airliners,,
    We need to address all of this but unless the Goverment bodies are willing we may see
    the fire season end when the Great Tanker Pilot in the sky decides to call it…

  37. Pamela Gray says:
    June 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm
    “Good ol’ Lars. ….. He can be a conservative idiot at times.”

    Pamela,
    That’s not ‘brass’, m’ lass. That’s just crass.
    MtK

  38. When the Carmel wildfire broke out in Israel ten firefighting aircraft fought the fire. Four from Cyprus, two from Turkey, two from Russia, one from France, five from Spain, three from the United States, including the 747-200 supertanker, and one from Germany. In addition there were three helicopters from Cyprus and two from Britain.

    In the US it surely couldn’t be political could it?

    http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=T1100

  39. Robin
    June 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Anybody know if Evergreen is unionized or willing to always pay Davis-bacon wages?
    ###

    Last year Evergreen was in a labor dispute that had been going on for a least a few years that ended up being mediated by the NLRB. The left does not like them at all, “OMG they are a CIA FRONT!!!”. They also gave $30K to R’s and $0.00 to D’s in the 2011-2012 time frame.

  40. u.k. (us) says June 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I have to wonder what the turn around time between a 747 vs a 5000 gallon drop plane would be, also the precision of the drops due to maneuverability in mountainous terrain. …

    The Mission Compatibility paragraph in this analysis from a USFS VLAT Operational Test and Evaluation Summary Report (courtesy NASA) in 2009 says this regarding ‘maneuverability’ in irregular terrain:

    It was concluded that VLAT [Very Large Aerial Tanker] aircraft are probably compatible with the wildland fire suppression mission, provided that they are used to supplement other aerial retardant delivery platforms rather than replace them in all environments.

    Steep or rugged terrain, reduced visibility due to smoke and ash, and situations where topography or other factors result in irregularly-shaped delivery zones will affect any aerial retardant delivery aircraft, but it is believed these scenario characteristics will affect VLATs to a larger degree, and may preclude their effective use for certain classes of fires, particularly those with small or irregularly shaped delivery zones.

    Extremely rugged terrain will make setting up for stabilized deliveries challenging, particularly
    where the pilot must judge wingtip terrain clearance while maneuvering over irregular terrain for setup. These conclusions are based on pilot comments generated during multiple simulated deliveries using high-fidelity visual simulators over various terrain types. Dispatch decisions will need to take these and other factors into account.

    So, yes, some concerns regarding mountain flights …
    .

  41. The USFS is manned, or should I say wom-maned, by affirmative action morons rather then the best person for the job, Please note I said the best person for the job which may be a women. They are a government agency that cowtows to the loudest lawsuit. They long ago got ride of the employees with common sense.

    They can not use the bigger plane because it would let out to much water at once and cause soil erosion that would clog the stream beds for some endangered fish.

  42. This pause in your regular programming is brought to you by Paul Simon. Take a breath and break from the usual intellectual exercise and just listen to Africa.
    Call Me Al

  43. No, that’s not the best weapon. The best weapon is a chainsaw. The Feds haven’t allowed that to be used for 20 years. We’re reaping the fiery whirlwind now.

  44. Ben Wilson says:
    June 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Wasn’t Evergreen involved with some CIA operations in the Reagan era?

    It would be so politically incorrect to hire those folks. . . . . .

    Tell that to the families whose homes have gone up in smoke.

    How many hours of aircraft operation could have been leased for the price of the Solyndra kickbacks?

  45. Robin says:
    June 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm
    “Anybody know if Evergreen is unionized or willing to always pay Davis-bacon wages?”

    Robin,
    Why should any of that matter, when life is threatened and homes are being burned by the hundreds? I have fought fires…. because my neighbors were threatened and it was the right thing to do. Many rural firemen are volunteers. They risk their bacon without consideration of some damn union rules or constraining regulations.

    Honest to God! If your hair is on fire, does any of that crap matter?
    “Sorry – Can’t help you. I’m a union man and we’re on strike! And that other fellow, well he can’t help you either because his is non-union and isn’t paid davis-bacon wages. And that Evergreen company with their huge airtankers sitting idle, well, they didn’t contribute any money to this administrations campaigns so they have been shut out of their political contracts, Citizens and Country be damned!
    It defies basic reason and logic. It destroys forests, incinerates homes, and kills people!
    Is THAT what our government is supposed to be doing with our hard earned tax dollars?
    Really???? How angry about this kind of stupidity do you have to get before you will take actions against it?

    This is yet another clear example of why this administration and the federal, state, and local politicians that support their floundering, bankrupting incompetence must be voted out in November!
    Please, Please! Get involved in the concerted efforts in your locale to defeat these pols in November!

    If not Now, When?
    If not You, Who?
    MtK

  46. “Very simple answer to why Colorado is allowed to burn.
    It’s a red state.”

    Not we’re not, we’re purple at best and have been getting bluer as people migrate here from coastal states, especially CA.

    ‘worst in state history’

    Not it’s not, 2002 is still worse, unless you consider the number of homes lost rather than the acreage.

    Before the Buffalo Creek Fire in 1996, the largest fire in CO history was something like 3,000 acres. The difference? We used to regularly thin our forests, dispose of fuel buildup, and aggressively fight pine beetle infestations. Since around the 60s, those things no longer happen, hence the fuel buildup. As for the number of homes lost, that’s because more people are encroaching further into the Red Zone, the foothill areas that are drier but are also close to the cities so that you can have mountain living with a reasonable commute.

    My brother says that the entire central part of the mountains around Silverthorne is completely beetle kill. If it goes, it will be the largest fire anyone has ever seen. We learned a lot about forests and fires after Buffalo Creek when we lost our family cabins.

    One more thing, firefighters may be able to save a home hear or there, on the edge of the fire or when it’s moving more slowly, but when the winds are 65 mph, as they commonly are here, there’s NOTHING they can do. If you think they’re standing on your property in a fire storm trying to save your house, I have a bridge I can sell you.

  47. Would the contractors currently working for the Forest Service happened to be owned by Obama campaign funding bundlers? There is a curious correlation between such folks and some of the green energy companies that have soaked the taxpayer for billions of dollars.

    Pamela Gray’s comment about conservative male idiots takes into account that in the modern world of political correctness, one can get away with insulting European males, conservatives, and persons of particular religious beliefs, but not others. Pamela is quite safe in doing so in the larger PC world.

    It does make many readers — even non conservatives — think rather less of Pamela, however. Too bad.

  48. If you are surprised by this, you’re probably confused about the nature of government. Government exists for the sole purpose of looting the people. Government uses forest fires as an excuse to loot the people, therefore it adopts policies that promote forest fires and hinder the control of forest fires. All this makes perfect sense given that government funds itself through theft and has a monopoly on coercion.

  49. Gyles Hanford says:

    June 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm
    ==============
    Do you always talk yourself into this type of circular logic, or did you save it especially for us ?

  50. As far as the VLAT in Moutainous conditions , the VLAT is useful in drawing fire line. ridgetops lone open valleys, plains etc. the thing is it frees up smaller aircraft for more efficent attack on spot fires , breakouts, intial attack. Having herded 117’6”x 108’6″ and 100.000+ lbs.around the sky an mountains you would be surprized how meanuverable a big plane is….

  51. Why would folks build in wildfire country? Because if you want to live and work in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, etc. , you will need to build your home in wild fire country. Note that in California, some of the worst housing losses from wildfires have been the Oakland Hills (SF bay area), and various parts of the Los Angeles complex.

  52. Let’s be fair here, flying a large turbofan airframe “low and slow” requires balls of vanadium, drop forged steel. Given that willing pilots exist who possess these attributes, surely the key factor is payload delivered per time interval…..and dam the procurement policy..

  53. Australia had, some years ago, a 747 on trial. Several of the major problems included turnaround, available airports, and required terrain clearance. We seem to use lots of the smaller aircraft instead, and of course, do love helicopters – especially those Sikorsky S-64’s. Their ability to quickly get water from local sources and return to where needed, is a useful talent.

    The Sikorsky can carry 9 tonnes, the 747 Supertanker, 76 tonnes.
    The turnaround for the 747….I don’t know; The Sikorsky can drop its water, go to the golf course/river/swimming pool/river, re-fill and return quite quickly indeed. The 747 would have to land, be re-fillled, then take off, then fly to the fire….rinse, repeat etc.

    The fires in Australia in 2009 burnt 450,000 ha (1,100,000 acres) and 2,029 homes. The bushfire fighting fleet (NAFC) seems to be 18 fixed wing and 35 rotary-wing aircraft.

    I don’t think there’s a grand conspiracy, nor do I think the 747 hasn’t been thought of; rather perhaps it’s not (ever?) suited to fires in terrain.

    We know the cycle; -> Government doesn’t do something -> Media reports FUD -> populace gets into ill-informed uproar -> Government sees votes departing -> government changes mind.

  54. These fires are a result of climate change (global warming). They (gov) don’t want the fires to be put out because then climate change can’t be blamed. I’m Sorry but it’s that simple.

  55. Mismanagement on a multiple and massive scale. One reason for so much fuel, thousands of acres of Lodge Pole pine all planted 90 years ago, now dead and dying from old age. Add lack of thinning and clearing, result fires. The beetle infests old diseased trees.

    Dont let common sense spoil a good political fight.

  56. Bush’s fault, right? And why not blame ex-FEMA’s Michael Brown while we’re at it. Nah… let’s just blame people for who produce CO2 and are therefore considered guilty of going about the business of living while Leftists do nothing but take a cut.

  57. u.k. (us) says June 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Do you always talk yourself into this type of circular logic, or did you save it especially for us ?

    Curiosity has got the better of me; are you unaware of (what is or ‘who are’) ‘campaign bundlers’ or maybe ‘PC-code speech’ (i.e. “politically correct speech codes”) as it relates to acceptable public commenting and writing (with certain old, established mainstream groups or personages and religions being ‘open’ to all manner of derision without impugning one’s own exhibition of civility); we can get to ‘circularity of logic’ after first clearing up where any mis or non-conceptions may exist …

    .

  58. Reminds me of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill fiasco. The Europeans offered to lend us use of boats that could suck up huge amounts of oil on the surface water. King Obama refused the offer and told them to shove their boats up their butts.

  59. u.k. (us) says:
    June 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I have to wonder what the turn around time between a 747 vs a 5000 gallon drop plane would be, also the precision of the drops due to maneuverability in mountainous terrain.
    But what do I know, and no the fire is not approaching my house.

    The convair 580’s and P2V’s take about 4 minutes to actually load the slurry. Total time on the ground when in max effort attack, with 4 – 6 planes in rotation out of Jeffco Airtanker Base was about 14-18 minutes between takeoffs on average. Often you have one on final approach as the freshly loaded tanker is on the taxi way or holding to begin their takeoff roll as soon as the run way is clear.

    Not to be the devils advocate, I do see some problems with the VLAT application in our terrain and environment.

    The fire lines that they are trying to hit do not need, and cannot really use a 1/4 mile wide, 3 mile long drop.. Due to the terrain, fire lines or hot spots are much shorter and irregularly shaped, often on very steep terrain.

    If loaded with slurry, the VLAT would just about empty the Jeffco Airtanker facility tanks in one pass, they have 3 tanks with the upper mark on the tanks at 11,000 gallons so their on hand stock is about 33,000 gallons when full. I am not sure if that is a concentrate or the actual mixture loaded on the planes though. Water is not as effective as the slurry in terms of its persistance (ability to provide fire suppression for a period of time) and its ability to penetrate to and smother the hot spots.

    In any case the tanker base is not suited for 747 flights. Rocky Mountain Metro airport where the Jeffco Air Tanker Base is located is at an altitude of 5670 ft, with a longest runway of 9000 ft (29R-11L: 9,000′ x 100′ Grooved Asphalt).

    Maybe someone can tell us what the minimum take off roll is for a fully loaded VLAT at a density altitude of 8,000 – 10,000 ft which is often see here in hot weather.

    The largest Jet planes that fly out of RMMA are the corporate jets. The runways are not strong enough or long enough to service even small commercial jets. According to my calculations even at zero fuel and empty the 747 is too heavy for the runways.

    Aircraft Weight bearing capacity on the longest runway:
    Single wheel: 55.0
    Double wheel: 75.0

    The airport is only 10 air miles from the location of the Flagstaff fire, and about 60-70 air miles from the High park fire west of Ft Collins and slightly farther from the Colorado Springs fire, so air sortie time using the conventional tankers is not that long. If the VLAT flew out of a larger air field like DIA or Peterson which is significantly farther from the fires (with the exception of the Colorado Springs fire and Peterson), I suspect the smaller air tankers could in total deliver more fire retardant “on target” in a given amount of time than the VLAT could.

    I have been watching and photographing the slurry bombers and helicopter drops for the last few days on the Flagstaff fire. The air tankers have to use some very creative approach flying to get the slurry drop on target in those deep ravines and steep slopes.

    The 747 would be blasting a huge area with water that was well outside the burn area they are trying to hit. That creates significant risks for the fire crews on the ground and structures they are trying to protect. It does not do much good to stop the fire short of a structure but in the process to flatten buildings, and blow out windows with the “over shoot” of the drop.

    When I was training for my red card, they made a point of telling us to keep an eye on the slurry bombers and make sure you did not get hit by the drop, It carries a significant impact and can injure or kill people on the ground and destroy equipment.

    The links below are pictures of the terrain the drops are being made in on the Flagstaff fire which is similar to the others in the area. It is very unlikely they can make good use of a water/slurry drop that is longer than 1/4 mile or so.

    (images copyright Larry Ledwick)

    The VLT might however have been useful during the Last Chance Prairie fire last week that burned almost 45,000 acres in a day and a half.

    The other question is does the VLAT require any specialized ground infrastructure that is not available at the larger airports that are designed to service the big jets of this class?

    Regarding the National Guard activation, the law prohibits the government from competing with free enterprise. That is why they can only be activated when conventional free enterprise resources are totally allocated. If not, the military resources would quickly put the private contractors out of business. It is sometimes a frustrating policy but essential to keep government in their proper place. I don’t want the government taking food off the table for hard working private enterprise operations who have invested a good deal of their own money into creating a business. If the military could be activated on a first call basis, they would kill all these small commercial tanker operations out right.

    Larry

  60. Mac the Knife says:
    June 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Robin,
    Why should any of that matter, when life is threatened and homes are being burned by the hundreds? …

    Mac, would our government (everyone of whom in the upper echelons of power swore an oath to uphold the constitution) ever ‘run guns’ (i.e., actively procure and provide ‘cover’ for the safe passage out of the country) for the purpose of effecting some political goal, eventually possibly leading to a direct ‘casualty’ of one of our own border agents (Fast & Furious anyone)?

    Cold, calculating decisions get made in offices far removed from the ‘front lines of pain and agony’ by politicos in every conflict by those who see only their selfish political goals … punishing Evergreen b/c of a labor conflict would fit right in with what has been called Chicago-style politics. Remember, anti-social personality disorder afflicts somewhere around 4% of the general population, sociopaths are estimated at being 3% (of all males) in society and psychopaths at about 1% of the population; Some of these people are in positions of power …

    .

  61. When I watch the video of the VLAT zooming in for a drop, why is the “Ride of the Valkyries” playing in my head? :-)

    Poida says (June 30, 2012 at 6:49 pm): “I don’t think there’s a grand conspiracy, nor do I think the 747 hasn’t been thought of; rather perhaps it’s not (ever?) suited to fires in terrain.”

    Indeed, there may be very good reasons for not using the VLAT, but if so the Forest Service should be able to explain them.

    Common Sense says (June 30, 2012 at 5:55 pm): “No we’re not [a red state], we’re purple at best and have been getting bluer as people migrate here from coastal states, especially CA.”

    Apparently some parts of CO are redder than others. Daily Kos has this:

    “As the flames approach the VERY conservative city of Colorado Springs we are reminded that this is one of the proud beachheads the Tea Party movement…

    Perhaps as disaster is about to strike their city, these folks may wish there was a little more government around.

    Thankfully, President Obama is traveling there soon. He is bringing the full force of the government to help this community.”

    BWAHAHAHA! Perhaps he’s going to douse the flames with the contents of Air Force One’s toilets?

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/06/27/1103754/-Colorado-Springs-Rescuing-Conservative-Paradise

  62. In perspective, “On October 8, 1871, the Peshtigo, Wisconsin forest fire consumed over 1.2 million acres of timberland. In its wake, 1,182 people were killed. This fire is considered to be the most deadly fire on American historical record. The 1910 “Big Blowup” fire in northeast Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana sucked up 3 million acres…3 MILLION. This is more than the size of several American states.”

    http://forestry.about.com/cs/forestfire/a/good_bad_ugly.htm

  63. I got deja vu when I read this. In 2002 there was a massive forest fire burning out of control and the head of the forest service refused to allow a Russian IL-76 in to the country to fight the fire. The IL-76 water bomber is a four engine jet with a 11,000 gallon capacity and is about 10 times the size of the tankers they are using now. The forest service said they didn’t want to use it because it would have wasted water.

    http://www.wnd.com/2002/08/15009/

  64. Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says:

    June 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm
    ============
    Thanks for all the great info.
    I hated to say it, it just seemed like the wrong platform for the ….. job.

  65. Larry(Hotrod) very good analysis. I feel the DC-10 is better for more conventional use but
    neither the DC-10 or the 747 is good for inital attack. Here is the BAE 146 that is about to fly.
    A 3000 gallon jet that can operate out of DC4/6/7 airports….

    http://www.mindenair.net/minden/BAE-146.html

  66. As far as Russian jets go they are fine but the FAA says the must meet our standard.
    There are soild reasons for this….

  67. The folks who build house in or near pine forest in the west are unaware of the fact that these pine forests are short-lived and rarely last more than 150-200 years.

    Usually lightening strikes start fires. The major conifer in the west is lodgepole pine (LP) which has two types of cones: regular cones that have a two year life cycle and serotinus or heat-sensitve cones. The serotinus cones can hang on the branches for many years or even decades.

    High heat from fire is required to melt the resin so the scales of the cone can open whereupon the seeds drop straight to the ground. The ash from the burnt trees has minerals (eg. potassium. calcium and phosphorus) for new plant growth. The ash also sweetens the soil which becomes acid in pine forest due to resin acids in the needles and branches that fall off the trees.

    This is the reason there are monocultures of LP in the western US and BC. The LP is the principle pine that grows well in these semi-arid regions. Jack pine is the only other pine in NA that has serotinus cones.

    Houses in these regions should have tile or metal roofs and should be built with bricks, stone blocks or adobe bricks. Wood frame houses should have siding made from ceramic materials such as Portland cement. Metal siding could be used but it is expensive.

    Houses should not have asphalt shingles or cedar shingles or shakes roofs. These are treated with fire retardents but these slowly leach out especially from the latter and don’t prevent fire when there is high heat.

    Building houses in these pine forests is just plain dumb.

  68. Howard says:
    June 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm
    …Because it doesn’t work. Looks good for the Tee Vee news and punters.

    Actually, it works quite well, when the controller has an appropriate drop area for it.

    Evergreen is a well known CIA contractor looking for media hype to suckle more lucre from Uncle Sugar.

    Evergreen is a contractor specializing in large aircraft. They’ve done work for the CIA, the military, and for NASA — EA had the maintenance contract to support the Super Guppy 747 that hauled the space shuttle around.

    Chalk this one up to Obama’s need for job figures. Those Who Are So Much More Intelligent Than We Are figure that four 5,000-gallon asset companies provide the same coverage as a single 20,000-gallon asset company at four times the number of employees. What the bureaucrats don’t realize is that they’re not going to find more than a handful of aerial firefighting companies who qualify as “small business” operators — USFS *does* realize that, and won’t issue an official statement because the bureaucrats there only have two choices:

    1. lie to cover the administration which handed them that ridiculous requirement, and make themselves look like complete incompetents now and mendacious fools when the lie is exposed, or

    2. tell the truth and get fired.

    It’s the Chicago Way.

  69. Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says:
    June 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm
    The 747 would be blasting a huge area with water that was well outside the burn area they are trying to hit.

    You’re underestimating both the intelligence of the aerial controller and the experience of the pilots. We used to get very creative at arcing the water into a fire without overflying it or sending the bucket into the rotor system.

  70. Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says June 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Larry Ledwick: The convair 580′s and P2V’s take about 4 minutes to actually load the slurry. Total time on the ground when in max effort attack, with 4 – 6 planes in rotation out of Jeffco Airtanker Base was about 14-18 minutes between takeoffs on average. Often you have one on final approach as the freshly loaded tanker is on the taxi way or holding to begin their takeoff roll as soon as the run way is clear.

    NC

    Larry Ledwick: Not to be the devils advocate, I do see some problems with the VLAT application in our terrain and environment.

    Addressed in previous post.

    Larry Ledwick: The fire lines that they are trying to hit do not need, and cannot really use a 1/4 mile wide, 3 mile long drop.. Due to the terrain, fire lines or hot spots are much shorter and irregularly shaped, often on very steep terrain.

    What about ridgelines or areas either side of ridgelines?

    Larry Ledwick: If loaded with slurry, the VLAT would just about empty the Jeffco Airtanker facility tanks in one pass, they have 3 tanks with the upper mark on the tanks at 11,000 gallons so their on hand stock is about 33,000 gallons when full. I am not sure if that is a concentrate or the actual mixture loaded on the planes though. Water is not as effective as the slurry in terms of its persistance (ability to provide fire suppression for a period of time) and its ability to penetrate to and smother the hot spots.

    A: Shoe-horning the VLAT into present facilities as if it were a conventional tanker would not make sense; This should be considered in a different class given the volume of material it is capable of delivering as well as the flight profiles a 747 aircraft must adhere to.

    B: The references/material on the Evergreen website mention only fire retardants as payloads, not water; it makes complete sense to use this flying delivery platform with materials that give yield the most ‘effect’.

    Larry Ledwick: In any case the tanker base is not suited for 747 flights. Rocky Mountain Metro airport where the Jeffco Air Tanker Base is located is at an altitude of 5670 ft, with a longest runway of 9000 ft (29R-11L: 9,000′ x 100′ Grooved Asphalt).

    No worrys; there are several suitable A/P further out the VLAT can make use of; the Evergreen website shows Peublo as one sush suitable A/P. They say: “Generally, the runway requirements for the Evergreen Supertanker are 8000 feet.” At STP? Safe assumption for now.

    Larry Ledwick: Maybe someone can tell us what the minimum take off roll is for a fully loaded VLAT at a density altitude of 8,000 – 10,000 ft which is often see here in hot weather.

    Fortunately, the VLAT in tanker configuration even with 20,500 gallons of retardant is still 150,000 lbs below its maximum takeoff weight capacity … providing an enhanced safety margin. Also, the weight of a fully loaded Supertanker aircraft is still below the maximum landing weight, meaning the pilots will not have to dump an entire load if landing with the load still on board.

    Larry Ledwick: The largest Jet planes that fly out of RMMA are the corporate jets. The runways are not strong enough or long enough to service even small commercial jets. According to my calculations even at zero fuel and empty the 747 is too heavy for the runways.

    Answered/addressed previously.

    Larry Ledwick: Aircraft Weight bearing capacity on the longest runway:
    Single wheel: 55.0
    Double wheel: 75.0

    NC

    Larry Ledwick: The airport is only 10 air miles from the location of the Flagstaff fire, and about 60-70 air miles from the High park fire west of Ft Collins and slightly farther from the Colorado Springs fire, so air sortie time using the conventional tankers is not that long. If the VLAT flew out of a larger air field like DIA or Peterson which is significantly farther from the fires (with the exception of the Colorado Springs fire and Peterson), I suspect the smaller air tankers could in total deliver more fire retardant “on target” in a given amount of time than the VLAT could.

    Again, consider the VLAT for ‘strategic’ vs ‘tactical’ use. This might be a paradigm shift in asset use that commanders are unable to ‘make’ or consider?

    Larry Ledwick: I have been watching and photographing the slurry bombers and helicopter drops for the last few days on the Flagstaff fire. The air tankers have to use some very creative approach flying to get the slurry drop on target in those deep ravines and steep slopes.

    Paradigm shift; addressed above, also consider for specific purposes rather than as ‘one more asset to be allocated in a simple manner’ (e.g. ridgeline proactive fire retardant application vs fighting active flames w/water)

    Larry Ledwick:The 747 would be blasting a huge area with water that was well outside the burn area they are trying to hit. That creates significant risks for the fire crews on the ground and structures they are trying to protect. It does not do much good to stop the fire short of a structure but in the process to flatten buildings, and blow out windows with the “over shoot” of the drop.

    Ahem; fire retardant application would seem to be the intended load for the VLAT, as opposed to just water … not excluding water of course.

    Larry Ledwick: When I was training for my red card, they made a point of telling us to keep an eye on the slurry bombers and make sure you did not get hit by the drop, It carries a significant impact and can injure or kill people on the ground and destroy equipment.

    Roger that.

    Larry Ledwick: The links below are pictures of the terrain the drops are being made in on the Flagstaff fire which is similar to the others in the area. It is very unlikely they can make good use of a water/slurry drop that is longer than 1/4 mile or so.

    Larry Ledwick: (images copyright Larry Ledwick)

    Larry Ledwick: The VLT might however have been useful during the Last Chance Prairie fire last week that burned almost 45,000 acres in a day and a half.

    NC

    Larry Ledwick: The other question is does the VLAT require any specialized ground infrastructure that is not available at the larger airports that are designed to service the big jets of this class?

    See previous disc. above

    Larry Ledwick: Regarding the National Guard activation, the law prohibits the government from competing with free enterprise. That is why they can only be activated when conventional free enterprise resources are totally allocated. If not, the military resources would quickly put the private contractors out of business. It is sometimes a frustrating policy but essential to keep government in their proper place. I don’t want the government taking food off the table for hard working private enterprise operations who have invested a good deal of their own money into creating a business. If the military could be activated on a first call basis, they would kill all these small commercial tanker operations out right.

    NC

    Larry Ledwick: Larry

    _Jim

  71. Gee…. From an administration that does Gun Walking To Mexico in the effort to ban guns; would we expect them to put out fires that could instead be attributed to Global Warming?

  72. R. Shearer says:
    June 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm
    In perspective, “On October 8, 1871, the Peshtigo, Wisconsin forest fire consumed over 1.2 million acres of timberland. In its wake, 1,182 people were killed. This fire is considered to be the most deadly fire on American historical record.
    =============================================================
    It happened to occur on the same day as The Great Chicago Fire. It just didn’t get the press coverage.

  73. _Jim says:
    June 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Jim,
    You’re singin’ to the choir, Mate! What drives me to exasperation is anyone (private citizen or government bureaucrat) mincing words and wasting time on the perceived union or politically correct status of any capable emergency aid group, person, or company while simultaneously our neighbors are dying (in blunt fact) in massive conflagrations! The cold blooded heartlessness and vicious partisanship of that union/PC, enviro-mental crap borders on murder.

    If your neighbor died because you stopped the ambulance to check the EMT’s union cards and verify the vehicle has a current emissions certificate, you killed him. The people blocking use of forest thinning, controlled burns, and effective firefighting asset use are directly killing people by their politically correct obstructions.
    MtK

  74. All the talk about efficiency and cost etc is just so much balderdash.

    If it helps the situation you use it ! End of discussion.
    The fact is this will be used as an example of global warming so agenda-21 can move forward.
    When in fact it was largely caused by mismanagement of the land resources by the feds.

  75. Bill Tuttle says:

    June 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says:
    June 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm
    The 747 would be blasting a huge area with water that was well outside the burn area they are trying to hit.

    You’re underestimating both the intelligence of the aerial controller and the experience of the pilots. We used to get very creative at arcing the water into a fire without overflying it or sending the bucket into the rotor system.
    ========================
    This is the part when I make an enemy.
    Were you flying a 747 ?
    Are you qualified to fly a 747 ?
    Would it be your first choice to put out a fire ?

  76. The nature of fire is that you “Put a small fire out before it has a chance to become a big one”.

    The motto of the FOREST CIRCUS is: “Don’t put a small fire out, let it build into a wonderful, major cataclysm, making us rich, fat and important.”

    I hold the Forest Circus responsible for intentionally letting this and hundreds of other fires build to unstoppable levels by their greed. This nasty habit started long ago when they hesitated at fires, because fire was natural…….

    This has happened way too many times.

    The forests will never be healthy until the loggers are allowed to return to the woods to do their jobs. Western forests must be ribboned with cleared areas where fires can be stopped. Which would also help the economy.

  77. Bill Tuttle says:
    June 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says:
    June 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm
    The 747 would be blasting a huge area with water that was well outside the burn area they are trying to hit.

    You’re underestimating both the intelligence of the aerial controller and the experience of the pilots. We used to get very creative at arcing the water into a fire without overflying it or sending the bucket into the rotor system.

    Yes I have seen their “creativity” many times, some of them are truly artists at making the red stuff wet stuff.

    _Jim says:
    June 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Again, consider the VLAT for ‘strategic’ vs ‘tactical’ use. This might be a paradigm shift in asset use that commanders are unable to ‘make’ or consider?

    I agree as you probably already know the Forest service is “procedure bound” in much of the things it does, heroic creativity or good judgement is not always demonstrated when things are getting out of hand (see storm king mountain)

    I think “if” the asset was already available and standing by with appropriate infrastructure set up, its best use would be as you mentioned to make strategic fire lines along ridges etc. to box the fire in case other more tactical attacks do not stop the fire at the burn area.

    The problem is, that probably, no one wants to be the first to use it, and no operational procedures exist for a new technology. It gets to be sort of an aerial ballet as it is keeping all the air craft properly coordinated over a burn. The other day we had 3 Sikorsky sky crane helicopters making water drops, and 2 – 4 slurry tankers along with the air attack twin all trying to keep out of each others way over a relatively small burn area. Clearing a corridor for a heavy is something they probably have not sorted out procedure wise (proper separation, avoidance of wing tip vortex etc.).

    Personally on a dollar for dollar basis they could accomplish a lot more in my estimation by getting some C-130’s in the hands of the fire contractors, than by building special infrastructure to support a rarely used asset like the VLAT. They would have a more modern airframe than the current slurry bombers, that has current parts inventory.

    Larry

  78. Having fought such fires and directed air-tankers doing drops, let me say this…. Those who are not familiar with major fires underestimate their intensity and vastly over-estimate the effectiveness of aircraft, even those as large as the 747. The drop-zone may sound large to the uninitiated, but on a bad day the wind carries burning material a great deal further that 1/4 of a mile, with the result that failure of such breaks is the norm, rather than the exception.

    Government services have a (well-earned) reputation for disregarding the taxpayer’s wallet, but in this case, cost-effectiveness has probably been a significant part of the decision-making process. It is easy to talk about $-per-gallon dropped, without regarding the difference between hitting Colorado – which is a fair-sized chunk of territory – and the far more limited areas of the fire-front where (and when) it can make a practical difference. Retardant dropped where the fire can simply burn around it is wasted $$. So is retardant dropped on the black.

    Ultimately, aircraft do NOT extinguish fires. They are only ever a supporting tool for the crews on the ground….. and big fires are only ever controlled when the weather moderates. Therefore we need to retain a reasonable level of cynicism over media claims that one piece of kit will make all the difference. Air-tankers are good, but not magic.

    Regards…. Peter (Air Attack Supervisor)

  79. Scarface has a good point: crises are good for causes. If the worst wildfires in Colorado’s history didn’t exist, the AGW lot would have to invent them.

  80. Does the federal government have a monopoly on fighting forest fires? Why can’t the State of Colorado hire the 747 to help put out fires threatening the life and property of Colorado citizens in Colorado Springs and elsewhere?

  81. A further note to encourage healthy scepticism… Check the Evergreen videos, and note that they only show drops made in relatively calm conditions. Ask yourself why that is, when airtankers are required to drop loose, finely-divided material.
    Intense, rapidly-spreading fires of the kind that cause the most damage and loss of life do not occur in calm conditions.

  82. “Most members of the U.S. Forest Service joined because they had a mission to grow trees. But, in order to grow trees, they need a richer and more powerful Forest Service. And, because of various laws passed by idiot Congress, the only way for the Forest Service to become richer and more powerful is to cut the trees it grows. When the Forest Service manages a forest for recreational purposes, the recreation fees go to the U.S. Treasury. But the Forest Service gets to keep a portion of revenue from logging and gets appropriations from Crongress to manage land that’s logged. The results are unfortunate. In Tongass National Forest in Alaska, it costs the Forest Service $100 in access roads, environmental impact studies, and so forth to get a tree ready to be cut. That tree then sells for $2. In the real world this would be a $98 net loss. But for the Forest Service it’s a $102 gain to the budget.”

    P J O’Rourke All the Trouble in the World (1994)

    I declare myself a reviewer and thoroughly endorse the book.

    Anyway, the point is that the government has always totally screwed up environmental management. Whether it be letting forests burn or encouraging the Forest Service to sell logging rights for an expansion of their budget, or many, many more things. The environment is too important to be entrusted to the State.

  83. I think as commenter’s above have stated wait to see how your Government uses this situation. Why let a good disaster go to waste, especially when you can poor the proverbial fuel on it.

  84. u.k. (us) says:
    June 30, 2012 at 9:32 pm
    @ me (June 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm)
    This is the part when I make an enemy.

    Nope, not at all — those are good questions.

    Were you flying a 747 ? Are you qualified to fly a 747 ?

    Rotary- and fixed-wing Army time, currently FAA licensed for rotary-wing commercial, light helicopters up to heavy-lifters, but I have a *lot* of friends and contacts in the Big Iron world, including guys who fly the fire-bombers.

    Would it be your first choice to put out a fire ?

    That would depend on the terrain, the altitude, the size of the fire, the availability of suitable airfields and water sources — there’s no one-size-fits-all — and if I were flying as a controller or as a dropper. As a controller, I’d want a mix of fixed and rotary assets — fight the main axis of the fire with the fixed-wings and keep the helicopters busy on the periphery, especially along the firebreaks. As a pilot, I’d want to stick with a helicopter, either a B-205 (UH-1H) for work at 6,000 MSL and below and either an S-64 or an Mi-17 for work above 6,000 feet.

  85. Peter W. says:
    June 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm
    A further note to encourage healthy scepticism… Check the Evergreen videos, and note that they only show drops made in relatively calm conditions. Ask yourself why that is…

    Because those are promo videos and camera crews don’t like it when they’re bouncing around, too. If you’re trying to say that the 747 can’t fly in turbulence, you’re badly mistaken.

  86. E.M.Smith says:
    June 30, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    “Gee…. From an administration that does Gun Walking To Mexico in the effort to ban guns; would we expect them to put out fires that could instead be attributed to Global Warming?”

    Just to get my hypothesis for explaining Fast and Furious out there: its main direct intent was obviously to arm the Mexican Drug Cartels. Unlike the Bush Adm. program, Operation Wide Receiver:

    1] The weapons were not tracked and have been recovered only at crime scenes – apparently sometimes merely as “throw downs” so that the perps don’t get immediately caught possessing a weapon. I’ve heard that about 76% of the ~1600-2000 weapons are still at large.

    2] The Mexican Gov’t didn’t know about it.

    The payoff for the Obama Adm. would be illegal Campaign contributions, laundered, say, through La Raza. In addition, the Obama Adm. is Communist, thus criminal. Criminals at this high level naturally favor doing business with like minds and m.o.’s. Which also explains why the Obama Adm. decided to prosecute California-legal pot dispensaries, and partially explains its war on Arizona’s attempt to interdict illegals, including the drug operatives, who certainly want to set up more shop in America’s cities.

  87. From the post:

    He writes in an email to me from Friday:

    … It drops ten times as much water as the biggest forest service tanker in use…

    From Evergreen’s website: “about 7 times the volume of the federal government’s largest air tanker.”

    I kinda assume that means (or includes) the military C-130 planes outfitted with the Forest Service’s 3,000-gallon Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFS).

    All eight planes (six operated by Air National Guard units and two by the Air Force Reserve Command) are now staged at Peterson Air Force Base on the east side of Colorado Springs. They’ll work whichever fires they’re needed at.

  88. Common Sense says:
    June 30, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    ‘worst in state history’

    Not it’s not, 2002 is still worse, unless you consider the number of homes lost rather than the acreage.

    By cost, by houses burned, by houses and cars broken into by thieves … as a human rather than a tree, I’ll buy the idea that it’s the worst so far. ;-)

  89. Gary Hladik says:
    June 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Indeed, there may be very good reasons for not using the VLAT, but if so the Forest Service should be able to explain them.

    Well, maybe they’ll get around to it; I’m not going to stress over it. I saw something somewhere (can’t recall at the moment) that said Evergreen had wanted an exclusive-use contract from the Forest Service – which I think meant having a plane and crew ready 24 hours a day – and the USFS wouldn’t agree. Could be a valid cost-saving argument if still true.

    Is there only one tanker based on a 747 in the world? (I don’t know.) And it’s so little used in the US that it’s available for missions on other continents … to me this suggests that there isn’t much call for 20,000-gallon supertankers.

    Apparently some parts of CO are redder than others. Daily Kos has this:

    “As the flames approach the VERY conservative city of Colorado Springs we are reminded that this is one of the proud beachheads the Tea Party movement…

    Perhaps as disaster is about to strike their city, these folks may wish there was a little more government around.

    Thankfully, President Obama is traveling there soon. He is bringing the full force of the government to help this community.”

    Does that all fit on Air Force One? /sarc

    Yeah, CSpgs (as we lovingly call it) is the center of Colorado’s political conservatism … and also a regional center for religious conservatism. That’s why the internet has been carrying messages saying that the city is getting what it deserves or that some specific individual or organization should lose everything.

    Thanks, Kos, there’s plenty of government working on Waldo Canyon alone between the civilian federal government, the military, two county governments, various towns and cities, and the angels sent down to decide whether Colorado should be the setting where the End Times begin.

  90. Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says:
    June 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    The problem is, that probably, no one wants to be the first to use it, and no operational procedures exist for a new technology….

    Personally on a dollar for dollar basis they could accomplish a lot more in my estimation by getting some C-130′s in the hands of the fire contractors, than by building special infrastructure to support a rarely used asset like the VLAT. They would have a more modern airframe than the current slurry bombers, that has current parts inventory.

    Evergreen’s 747 has been used in Arizona and California as well as abroad. But those may not have been the Forest Service … so maybe no USFS employee wants to be the first from his/her agency to use it.

    C-130s? Will you accept them if they’re military rather than private? :-) Four have been at the Waldo Canyon fire, and four more arrived Saturday.

  91. There’s no national security or even economic trade secrets in this situation, are there? Why not put the data on the fire out on the ‘net and allow these fellows at Evergreen to point out exactly where their plane could be used and how it would improve results. If they can’t do it, then maybe the USFS people aren’t calling for a reason. If they can identify large numbers of potential runs complete with figures on how it would result in better fire reduction, that gives lots of ammunition to those who want to change things.

  92. Peter W. says:
    June 30, 2012 at 9:51 pm
    Ultimately, aircraft do NOT extinguish fires. They are only ever a supporting tool for the crews on the ground….. and big fires are only ever controlled when the weather moderates. Therefore we need to retain a reasonable level of cynicism over media claims that one piece of kit will make all the difference. Air-tankers are good, but not magic.

    Excellent assessment, Peter. Air assets in firefighting, as in the military, exist solely to support the ground guys.

  93. Evergreen should just do the job gratis. They would save lives, property, and get a lot of gratitude and good publicity.

    The obama administration would prolly sue them though.

  94. Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says:
    June 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm
    It gets to be sort of an aerial ballet as it is keeping all the air craft properly coordinated over a burn.

    A controller I yakked with after one fire told me it was like directing “Swan Lake” with chainsaws.

  95. This has all happened before! In Yellowstone National Park, in the mid-1980’s. Stupid National Park fire suppression policies, and refusal to thin the undergrowth.

    See “Playing God in Yellowstone: The Destruction of America’s First National Park” by Alston Chase.

    Chase’s title appropriately captures the quasi-religious self-delusion of “our betters” who set up these conditions.The villain in that crime was one Aldo Leopold, an environmentalist/professor from…University of Wisconsin. His special area of expertise seems to have been… “Environmental Ethics”!

    “OH, THE HUMANITY!”

  96. I have known a few golfers from the narcissism generation in my life. They hate ticks, so they’d probably be content to let them fry in the bush. If they have beliefs in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming and perceive the wildfires to aid the fear to others enabling easier control, well that’d be all the better! Hmm?

  97. tmlutas says:
    June 30, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    … Why not put the data on the fire out on the ‘net and allow these fellows at Evergreen to point out exactly where their plane could be used and how it would improve results.

    Evergreen could certain start with this map on inciweb.

  98. Earlier I meant to include a link to aerial photos of burned houses with some near burned forest but many that just seem to have caught fire from the house next door.

    I suspect that most of the 32,000 evacuees did not live close enough to forest or scrubland for their houses to have picked up fire directly from those sources. And their housing developments weren’t short-grass prairie anymore, either.

    I know this with certainty for the house I lived in that was in an evac area, anyway. If it had burned, it just plain would have been because a suburban neighborhood had caught fire and was burning house-to-house.

  99. Australia has a similar problem with government stupidity. The Greens have passed a law prohibiting underbrush to be cleared around property, to help the indigenous animals. The local trees are eucalyptus which burn like a petrol fire and the underbrush helps to extend the fire rapidly and burn houses and kill people.

  100. Arizona based company and the Feds have it in for AZ and all connected?

  101. Michael Antoniewicz II says:
    July 1, 2012 at 3:23 am

    Arizona based company and the Feds have it in for AZ and all connected?

    McMinnville, Oegon, per their website.

  102. ^^^ Oregon

    =//=//=//=//=

    Cand.Jur. says:
    June 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Does the federal government have a monopoly on fighting forest fires? Why can’t the State of Colorado hire the 747 to help put out fires threatening the life and property of Colorado citizens in Colorado Springs and elsewhere?

    Well, the feds do pretty much have a monopoly over fires in National Forests and on military property. (The Air Force Academy was part of the Waldo Canyon fire’s evacuated area.) The 747 was used in California, but I suspect there was little or no federal land involved.

    Also, the state doesn’t have the authority to act for these people – they’re the responsibility of the cities and towns that they live in or else the counties if they’re on unincorporated land.

    The exceptions would be the few people living on state land. Students in dormitories at state universities, for example. And bigger issues have seen intervention on flimsier pretexts. But all the agencies involved are working hard to cooperate within an Incident Command System.

  103. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
    The government’s contracting is broken. The rules make no sense any more for most procurements. I’ve seen contract awards for as little as $499–obviously not something worth the contracting process. Contact your reps!

  104. Gerry Dorrian says:
    June 30, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Scarface has a good point: crises are good for causes. If the worst wildfires in Colorado’s history didn’t exist, the AGW lot would have to invent them.
    ——————————————————————
    The “worst fires in Colorado history” are not this fire, or the 2002 fire. CAGW proponents like to use their personal ignorance as defining history, and so they “invent” their own history.

    This fire was far worse.

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/massive-1898-fire-in-colorado/

    Also, in regard to CAGW in Colorado, well, it appears there is no CAGW in Colorado.

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/jeff-masters-making-up-statistics-in-colorado/

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/phil-jones-shows-no-trend-in-colorado-temperatures-since-1850/

  105. …there is another aspect behind the scenes that contribute to the size and scope of these fires. The aviation group who hire the pilots to fly these fire fighting missions take their sweet time getting started. Bigger the fire, the more they fly, the more money in the bank. Pretty sad.

  106. Ed Dahlgren says:
    June 30, 2012 at 11:57 pm


    C-130s? Will you accept them if they’re military rather than private? :-) Four have been at the Waldo Canyon fire, and four more arrived Saturday.

    Not sure what the question is?? The C-130 is a marvelous airframe I don’t care who flies it. One of its major advantages is it is an airframe with a very long history of deployment, that means it is a mature design and well understood. It is also still in production so the part system is not a scavenger hunt for rare bits and pieces. If the Civilian contractors had a fleet of them I am sure they would make good use of the birds. I do care about “when” the military flies any slurry missions, as noted above as a matter of good government policy, the government should never usurp civilian enterprise.

    Ed Dahlgren says:
    July 1, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Earlier I meant to include a link to aerial photos of burned houses with some near burned forest but many that just seem to have caught fire from the house next door.

    I suspect that most of the 32,000 evacuees did not live close enough to forest or scrubland for their houses to have picked up fire directly from those sources. And their housing developments weren’t short-grass prairie anymore, either.

    I know this with certainty for the house I lived in that was in an evac area, anyway. If it had burned, it just plain would have been because a suburban neighborhood had caught fire and was burning house-to-house.

    Yes modern zoning is the cause of most of those housing losses in subdivisions. Building codes and home owner association restrictions regarding acceptable roofing materials, and permitted spacing between adjacent structures (fire break width between buildings) are often the root cause of large subdivision losses, not wild land management practice.

    Many subdivisions in modern Metro areas have home spacing much closer than was the norm 30+ years ago so the developers the tax authority can squeeze and extra few homes into the subdivision (also one of the reasons for the insane winding streets with lots of cul-de-sacs rather than an efficient grid layout of streets.)

    The 12 -20 foot separation between homes which you see in some of the subdivisions will only prevent fire propagation from one property to the next if a fire fighter is standing there with a hose protecting the exposure of the neighbor house from the radiant heat and direct fire contact from home to home. In winds gusting 30-60 mph those narrow fire break spacings are just about useless.

    Larry

  107. Harold Pierce Jr says:
    June 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm
    High heat from fire is required to melt the resin so the scales of the cone can open whereupon the seeds drop straight to the ground.
    =================
    Pine is an incredibly flammable tree due to the high resin content. It makes one wonder if pine trees don’t use fire as a survival advantage. By encouraging fire, they get rid of the competition, making room for their own seeds to take root.

    Isn’t fire fighting ultimately self-defeating? The more you stop fires, the more fuel builds up, the more likely you will get larger and larger fires, the less likely you will be able to stop the fire.

    If anything should we not be setting fires when conditions are right, rather than waiting for lightning when conditions are wrong? Done correctly doesn’t fire remove the fuel build up while leaving the larger trees intact?

  108. highflight56433 says:
    July 1, 2012 at 7:08 am

    …there is another aspect behind the scenes that contribute to the size and scope of these fires. The aviation group who hire the pilots to fly these fire fighting missions take their sweet time getting started. Bigger the fire, the more they fly, the more money in the bank. Pretty sad.

    If that is true (entirely possible) the solution is to properly apply the military assets.
    If the incident commander says he needs 6 aircraft on the fire, and 2 are on site and 4 civilian contractor aircraft are on route but won’t be operational for 36 hours. If the local military assets can be on station and operational sooner, activate them and let them deploy until the civilian contractor is on station and fully operational, then stand them down as back up.

    It would be interesting to see if the Forest Service contracts for air tanker service include a provision for timely response, and what the service level agreement is for operational activity after a call out is made.

    Having worked in emergency management I would caution how ever that many times there are logistic concerns that complicate what on the surface would be simple decisions. You are not fighting just one fire but a complex of fires over several states. Each day they evaluate risks and asset needs and try to deploy limited assets to best service all the fires. You also have the logistics hurdles regarding how long it takes to get an asset like the military tankers in service and on station after their are activated. It takes time for National Guard pilots to get off work at their civilian jobs, report for duty, get briefed, get all the necessary approvals, have ground crews configure the air craft, fuel and fly them to their destination. Then they need to get briefed and prepped to fly a mission once there. Sometimes those lead times are long enough that they would “just” begin to be operational at the same time or even later than civilian assets which are already moving in that direction.

    Sometimes no matter what you do either option gets results about the same time in the future.

    Larry

  109. TG McCoy (Douglas DC) says:
    June 30, 2012 at 4:52 pm
    First the USFS decided that the Tankers Should be more modern, i.e. Jet powered.
    ========
    Why would anyone want to use jets instead of turbo props for fire fighting? At low speed don’t the larger, slower turning props have an advantage over the smaller, high speed fans?

  110. Common Sense: “My brother says that the entire central part of the mountains around Silverthorne is completely beetle kill. If it goes, it will be the largest fire anyone has ever seen.”

    I was curious so I googled “Silverthorne Co” and looked at the area on Google maps. If you back off the resolution a bit you can easily see brownish mountainsides in all directions from the city, and greener ones farther out. Scanning in, you can easily see dead pine logs laying on the mountainsides like toothpicks, no doubt numbering in the thousands. If those mountains were private property, I doubt such waste would ever have occurred, and the mountainsides might even still be green, though perhaps someone more knowledgeable about logging in the west would disagree? Incidentally, it looks like each mountainside of brown trees is about 4 to 6 square miles on the map, and there are several brown mountainsides visible around Silverthorne.

    One further comment: This article, and particularly the comments accompanying it, is a good example of why I regularly visit WUWT. The articles are usually good, but the comments are, in the main, truly excellent, because people with real life experience in almost any issue discussed in here manage to show up and educate the rest of us, and each other. It’s the back and forth in the comments that puts WUWT at the top of the heap when it comes to getting an accurate assessment of the article topic. As an example, I suspect that, before the comments cease, “someone more knowledgeable about logging in the west” will address my point about private ownership as it would apply to use of the forest resources.

  111. I’ll quickly provide some info on factors:
    – there are other large tankers, incuding DC-10s and http://www.martinmars.com (which was used well in the fires in Mexico south of Del Rio TX, picking up water from a reservoir near Del Rio).
    – the tanker must be able to safely maneuver to hit the hot spot of the fire. The first Mars tanker crashed due poor piloting strategy, the first Tanker10 brushed through tree tops on one run. – Larger tankers may be able to simply put water everywhere, perhaps not viewed as efficient use of money. When Western Forest Products used the Mars against a fire in the dificult “Sooke potholes” terrain west of Victoria BC two Mars made repeated drops then went into a holding pattern while smaller aircraft like helicopters hit remaining hotspots (probably using buckets on a long line to stay above the narrow canyon)
    – similarly, ground fire fighters may manually address remaining embers and such if safe to do so (presumably that’s who the S-61 helicopter were getting off the mountain before dark, when it crashed in the Chico CA area, an especially bad accident due number of people on board).
    – good spotting is essential to effectiveness and safety, the spotter aircraft crew determine safe routes for the tanker drop. The current owner of the one operational Mars tanker uses a fast helicopter, equipped with IR and datalink, and always in radio contact with the Mars.
    – as for jets vs turboprop, size is a factor for some fires, the DC-10 and 747 are much larger than the C-130 (which got a bad reputation with USFS due inadequate maintenance)

    Many factors for optimum use, with fires near homes such as now in CO and in 2003 near Kelowna BC we’d like authorities to throw everything they can at the fire.

  112. Larry you hit on a point and a problem with MAFFS deployment. It takes about 20 or so personnel
    to deploy each MAFFS Aircraft. Not saying that’s wrong, just the way it is. As one who has been there, Yes you have to preform on your contract.Back when there were civilian contractors flying C-130A’s (there were reasons they were parked,btw.) A 130 crew consisted of 3-2 Pilots,and a flight engineer. The reason is the aircraft was already tanked and the pressurized system of the MAFFS Unit is more maintenance intensive.
    I have to comment on the C-130A Back in the 90’s there were several Civilian contractors who
    used C-130A ‘s provided by the government. The 130A’s had a big problem. The wing spars.
    Or really the lack thereof. There were continual problems with this aspect of the aircraft.
    The Crash of T-130 in California in 2000 was the final straw..I knew the Caption well(Steve Waas.).I had been in that plane many times back in the day… There were mods and inspections,
    but the operator had avoided them by “cooking the books, ”
    Also there was a trumped up controversy about the Operators of the C-130 and the ahem,CIA.
    Sam Donaldson et.al. reveled in it and even the honest operators like Butler and TBM were
    painted with the same brush. I even was accused by a lefty in my home town at the time, of
    working for the CIA.something I did nothing about-at least they left me alone….
    My point- When this whole thing happened the USFS and others proceeded to strip
    all contracts from the 130 operators good and bad, no questions of performance of maintenance.
    just gone.This was done without any look at who was responsible and who was not. Now
    after a certain operator lost the USFS contract their C-130A’s are now flying in experimental
    programs at Edwards.

  113. Was this not the same tactic used by the US government during the Gulf oil leak?
    Refusing to call in Dutch skimmer boats and the biggest skimmer in the world?
    Is there a pattern here?

  114. Bill

    My bro is active CalFire flying the twin engine hueys running buckets on longlines. The consensus among his circle of wildland firefighters and pilots is that big jets cannot go slow enough nor low enough to drop their load with enough precision or concentration to do any good. Cali has deployed the DC10 (The Govenator knew how to fake heroic gestures for the rubes and punters) which was great for PR and completely ineffective on the ground. Water from these supertankers completely evaporated before hitting the ground like virga.

    The real issue here is that the forest circus is famous for creating tinderboxes, then letting the fires get horribly out of control no matter who is the Prez.

  115. David says:
    July 1, 2012 at 5:42 am

    The “worst fires in Colorado history” are not this fire, or the 2002 fire. CAGW proponents like to use their personal ignorance as defining history, and so they “invent” their own history.

    This fire was far worse.

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/massive-1898-fire-in-colorado/

    Careful about tarring too many people with the CAGW brush. Some of us just live here.

    The 1898 article was interesting, and I do enjoy learning about Colorado history. Later on I’ll try to research it further, but the first 100 Google hits for “Colorado fire 1898″ didn’t turn up any other articles about it except for a reprint in the next day’s New York Times.

    And reminders that Colorado’s fires have been puny in terms of acres burned, homes burned, and lives lost compared to Chicago and other conflagrations in US history.

    But in terms of “worst in state history,” I think it comes down to which parameter you take to be the most important. Two days after the 9/29 date on that article, eight blocks of downtown Colorado Springs burned. Business loss was greater in that fire than in Waldo Canyon … but was probably trumped by other fires that leveled mining towns.

    The 1898 article has approximately zero hard data for analysis. (That should earn it some healthy skepticism on this site! Heh.) But I’ll go out on a limb and guess that Waldo Canyon’s 346 houses burned and 32,000 people evacuated are probably more than what was possible in that area in that year.

  116. Actually the DC-10 isn’t bad it does have limitations but for laying line_if they use Retardant_
    it’s great for that and frees up smaller aircraft. But, as been discussed it is not perfect.
    Perfect would be a DC-7 with PW-100’s…

  117. BTW as we speak the DC-10 is being used in-Nevada flying out of Boise
    Ahh the unfathomable NIFC and the decisions thereof…

  118. Well after this discussion, today’s events over at the Jeffco Airtanker base are sort of funny.
    I just got back from there and the Canadian Convair 580’s which have been in use from the beginning on the High Park fire up near Ft. Collins are no where to be seen (at least for the last couple hours) —– but the day after the Media event for the President in Csprings, guess what ?

    I just watched 3 ANG C-130’s load with slurry and depart for the north (presumably for the High Park Fire). They were aircraft from both the Wyoming ANG and the North Carolina ANG.

    I’m sure many of us will read into this some political posturing after the Presidents visit.

    Larry

  119. Ed Dahlgren says:
    June 30, 2012 at 11:56 pm
    Gary Hladik says:
    June 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Indeed, there may be very good reasons for not using the VLAT, but if so the Forest Service should be able to explain them.

    Well, maybe they’ll get around to it; I’m not going to stress over it. I saw something somewhere (can’t recall at the moment) that said Evergreen had wanted an exclusive-use contract from the Forest Service – which I think meant having a plane and crew ready 24 hours a day – and the USFS wouldn’t agree. Could be a valid cost-saving argument if still true.

    I suggest you re-read the letter from Evergreen. A $50 million cost to develop the 747 air tanker – highly skilled and specialized pilots and crew required to operate. Extensive maintenance and inspections required by government to operate.

    It costs huge sums to keep any of these firefighting aircraft operational and available, let alone the 747 program.

    Yet the idiots at the USFS making the contract decisions refused to provide any financial minimum guarantee. A “Call when needed” contract is ridiculous for an asset with this kind of cost base.

    The Evergreen tanker uses a pressurized system to disperse retardant – it can moderate the dispersal from high velocity to as they say “falling rain” – they can also do segmented drops – allowing one tank load to hit multiple spots. It is not as some claim a single 20,000 gallon 1/4 mile long drop.

    The pressurized system also allows the aircraft to operate at a few hundred feet higher altitude – adding to its safety margin. This higher altitude drop capability also potentially allows for night drops and or in lower visibility.

    Its 20,500 gal retard load capacity is the equivalent of operating the aircraft with a little more than 100 people on board – for an aircraft that holds as many as 600+. At 150,000 lbs under gross takeoff weight the aircraft has a considerable safety margin and significant increased performance.

    With 20,500 gal load capacity (at appx 9lb per gal) and operating at 150,000 lbs below gross weight appears they should be able to carry appx 147,000 lbs of fuel. After taking out taxi (out and in), climb out (to estimated 15,000 feet) and descent – it looks like they would have appx 92,000 lbs of available “mission” fuel. If I got the correct numbers and calculated correctly this should give the 747 starting with a full 20,500 gal retardant load well over 3 hours flight time. I tried to be conservative in fuel calcs but if a lot of the time is in low speed high drag “drop” configuration air time could be somewhat less.

    Regardless – a single 747 flight could make the same drops as 7 flights of the smaller aircraft.

    I also think the high drop capacity could have been critical in attacking the Queens Canyon portion – which led to the loss of 340+ homes IN Colorado Springs. Reports show they knew this was a critical area and if fire breached the canyon it would make it in to the city. A couple high capacity 747 drops it seems could have been a significant benefit.

    The alternative would seem to have been to heavily target the area immediately up slope from the homes – with retardant drops in advance of the fire. The 747’s large capacity would have been perfect for that. Could even have targeted the homes once fire reached them.

    I suspect that the 747 (and DC 10’s) can operate in conditions where smaller aircraft and helo’s cannot – with their large mass and slightly higher altitude operating abaility – would seem they’re less susceptible to turbulence, wind etc. and could have continued operating when others were grounded and/or at night.

    Extreme risk public safety events are really stupid place to invoke or try to practice government cost accountability as well. As is the idea of protecting private contractors by restricting use of government assets in a high risk public safety incident.

    If you are having a heart attack, a policy that first checks for private ambulances, and only dispatched EMT’s if none are available would be pretty stupid. That is exactly what a “private/local first” policy to firefighting is.

    The attacks on the Obama administration over their failure to maintain an adequate availability of fire fighting aircraft are entirely valid. Not only have they blown off Evergreen, but as the “Aero” story above noted also have shut down other private contractors – over bureaucracy and little more.

    In that case the company passed all airworthiness requirements – their aircraft were certified safe to fly. Some pencil pusher however decided they didn’t like their long term maintenance plan. So they cancelled their contract and refused to use them – their 8 aircraft sat idle while Texas burned – for zero valid reason.

    The air tanker fleet is down to a couple handful of aircraft from close to 50 not long ago. These important tools to fight these mega fires are no longer available thanks directly to the current administrations actions – or lack there of.

    In Colorado Springs at least 2 people are dead and almost 350 homes destroyed – not out in the forest as some here have claimed – not built where they shouldn’t be … these homes and deaths were IN THE CITY of Colorado Springs.

    In my opinion … and I was in the forest, near the fire lines during the Hayman Fire and others – have seen close up and first hand the destruction as it was occurring, but also seeing the effects even years later of fires like the Buffalo Creek fire … had these assets first been available, and second had the available assets been deployed immediately rather than waiting days – the loss of life and property could have been significantly reduced.

    Its time to do away with all the bureaucracy and silly protectionist “rules” and do what every rational and logical person knows is right. Properly manage these national forests. That means appropriate selective logging, controlled burns, and all the other best forestry management practices.

  120. Evergreen was involved with the CIA during Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush II and Obama administrations.

  121. And equally moronic is any decision to restrict use of aerial fire retardant because a few fish may be killed. When faced with extreme danger, including possible loss of life, the extremely minor and relatively rare negative affects of fire retardants are dramatically outweighed. Management practices MUST be for the overall benefit of the resource – and damages to small, even tiny, groups must be balanced against the whole.

    The spotted owl “protectors” saga is a perfect example of the extreme ignorance and arrogance of these groups. For decades these would be spotted owl protectors blocked virtually all forestry management in a huge portion of the spotted owl habitat. When one groups actions were ultimately defeated, a different group would simply sue on the same facts again and tie things up for another decade while being litigated.

    All the while fuel load were dramatically increasing due to these idiots blocking even the best, most prudent, good forestry management practices.

    The result were the huge Cerro Grande (and other nearby) fires that even threatened the Los Alamos nuclear facility – destroying 689 square miles – nearly all of the spotted owl habitat was destroyed. The idiot treehuggers succeeded in causing exactly what they claimed to be trying to protect – almost complete destruction of the entire habitat.

    This story regarding the Cerro Grande fire in Los Alamos LINK HERE provides details of a university study of the fire:

    … the intensity of the catastrophic habitat destroying fires was a direct result of the fuel load biomass levels created by the Mexican Spotted Owl lawsuit. Logging restrictions were imposed on government controlled lands. The study reveals US Forest Service controlled lands in New Mexico forests alone had accumulated approx. 1.4 billion board feet of fuel load biomass buildup between the years of 1986 to 1999, as logging declined 82.4% during the period.

    All of the Mexican Spotted Owl habitat in the Los Alamos area and the owl nesting protected locations were lost, as were many of the ground dwelling endangered species.

    This same study found that the growth of the forest because of the lack of logging was significantly detrimental to the owls, with open areas decreasing by almost 20% and bare ground decreasing almost 40% – both necessary for the owl to see and catch prey. During the same time the tree density has increased over 28%.

    The extremely interesting discovery however was the ancillary effects of this tree mass – the huge impairment on water resources. They note a rule of thumb is each 1′ diameter tree uses appx. 50 gals of water per day. Historical records show typically there were 300-500 trees per acre, but currently there 1,000 to 5,000 trees per acre. At the low end that would correspond to at least a doubling (550 to 100 per acre) of water used by trees – at the low end approx 50,000 gals per day per acre.

    Multiply that at least doubling of water used by trees by hundreds of thousands of acres and it seems clear why the droughts are increasing. For just 100,000 acres the total conservative water needs at avg 1,000 trees per acre would be 5 billion gals per day – a 2.5 billion gal per day increase from 500 trees per acre typical not long ago. This water is not available to flow to streams and reservoirs.

    Yet another seemingly clear benefit of logging – of managing these forested lands to maintain their normal, typical forest makeup. Thin trees by 50% and you have 2.5 billion gals less water needed, much healthier trees and forest, and a dramatically reduced fire risk.

    And in Colorado’s case it would seem unhealthy trees stressed due to lack of water could be more susceptible to pine bark beetles as well.

    The Arizona Wallow fire last year was almost identical to the Cerro Grande fire – covering more than 538,000 acres, larger even than the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire that burned 468,638 acres.

    Between just the two – Wallow and Rodeo fires – 20 percent of the Mexican spotted owl nests that exist in the world were lost.

    MORE INFO AT LINK HERE

    What is so stupid is the fish are killed by these mega fires anyway. And a lot more than the 50 fish that a retardant drop allegedly killed. Heat from these fires baked streams and killed aquatic life. And then the damage from the fires – that destroyed all vegetation – also caused the streams to be filled with silt and ash

    SOS Forests wrote about retardant use as follows:

    The Big Lie About Fire Retardant

    A reader writes, “Doesn’t fire retardant kill fish?”

    No it doesn’t. In one case in history, when an entire truckload of the concentrate drained into a stream after the truck drove off the road and over the embankment, a few fish were killed.

    Never in history is there one single case of even a single fish being killed by aerially-applied fire retardant.

    Never ever ever. It’s a total LIE that fire retardant kills fish.

    What kills fish is fire (and firebombing).

    Wait, you say, how can fire kill a fish under the water?

    Because forest fires burn so hot they sometimes boil streams or at least raise the temperature of the water enough to kill fish.

    That’s right, sports fans. Fires burn right to the water’s edge. This may shock you, but riparian vegetation isn’t fireproof!

    The new rule prohibits fire retardant in so-called riparian zones 300 feet on either side of streams. So that vegetation will burn and the streams will boil.

    Fire also creates ash, which when wet becomes lye, and gets into the water and raises the pH. Fire turns fresh water alkaline via the ash, and that kills fish.

    Fire also burns the humus layer down to mineral soil, which then erodes into streams — killing fish by reducing the dissolved oxygen and coating fish gills so the fish strangulate.

    The fishing is nil after a forest fire. Nobody goes into a burn zone to catch fish, because the fish are dead. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claimed that fire retardant use ruined their fishing experience (no kidding, it’s in the plea) but the opposite is true — fire kills fish, fire retardant saves them.

    Which is all well known to the USFS, but they are on a mission to incinerate America’s forests, and so they kowtowed to the fire retardant LIE.

    There was nothing scientific about the fire retardant decision. It was pure politics — and arson politics at that. They are arsonists in a big way. Million-acre arsonists. Arsonists who are burning the Federal Estate with glee and abandon.

    Which is why the USFS shuns fire retardant and embraces napalm as the their treatment of choice for our forests.

    What ought to be banned in the US Forest Service. Keep them by law no nearer than 30 miles from any public forestland. Dump retardant on them if they get any closer

    And more example of gross ignorance pointed out by SOS – what is the USFS replacement for retardant?

    Basically, its napalm.

    USFS Replaces Fire Retardant With Napalm
    The US Forest Service will no longer be using fire retardant to douse forest fires. Instead they will be using a type of napalm to blast America’s forests to charcoal.

    In response to a lawsuit brought by the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, and the subsequent ruling by Federal Judge Donald Molloy [here], Thomas Tidwell, Chief, USDA Forest Service decided last December to ban the use of fire retardant on 30 percent of USFS lands.

    The Nationwide Aerial Application of Fire Retardant on National Forest System Land — Record of Decision is [here]. Some quotes:

    Aerial retardant drops are not allowed in mapped avoidance areas for threatened, endangered, proposed, candidate or sensitive (TEPCS) species or in waterways … Some species and habitats require that only water be used to protect their habitat and populations; these habitats and populations have been mapped as avoidance areas. Incident commanders and pilots are required to avoid aerial application of fire retardant in avoidance areas for TEPCS species or within the 300-foot (or larger) buffers on either side of waterways. … When approaching an avoidance area mapped for TEPCS species, waterway, or riparian vegetation visible to the pilot, the pilot will terminate the application of retardant approximately 300 feet before reaching the mapped avoidance area or waterway. … [T]he Proposed Action prescribed a 300-foot buffer area between retardant application and surface waters on national forests, excluding about 30 percent of NFS lands from aerially delivered retardant use. …

    In Western Oregon, a 300-foot buffer on either side of streams encompasses about 85 percent of the land base (because it’s wet here and we have lots of streams). So the USFS has effectively banned the use of fire retardant on the most productive lands in the National Forest System.

    What they didn’t ban was the use of aerially applied incendiaries, such as were used in Western Oregon last summer to catastrophically burn (100 percent mortality) green, old-growth, spotted owl habitat [here].

    Fire retardant is a phosphorus-nitrogen-water based slurry that puts fires out. It has no effect on plants or animals, except to very slightly fertilize the soil. The effect is so slight it cannot be measured. Oh yes, another effect of fire retardant is to save the plants and animals from incineration and immolation.

    Much more here: http://westinstenv.org/sosf/

    If I were the little fishies or the poor old spotted owl I would not want ANYTHING to do with the alleged protectors. These idiots have succeeded destroying – not saving – a large portion of the spotted owl (and other protected habitat) in the country (and a large share of worldwide habitat) through their ill-conceived efforts.

    Wanna know whats even scarier? These same people will tell you they are perfectly fine and happy with the result. They will tell you fire is “natural” and as such these fires are perfectly normal, natural and A-OK with them. All the while IGNORING there is NOTHING remotely NATURAL about the severity of the fires – a severity directly cause by their interference in both the natural course and interference with the Forest Service using best forestry management practices to prevent these severe and catastrophic effects.

    The term eco-terrorist is a perfect description for these people. All they care about is winning their battle – forcing their unsupported by science beliefs on others. And then being oblivious when it all blows up and causes the very thing they claim to be trying to prevent.
    .

  122. I am way down here in comments, making my first remark and I’ve not seen one mention of the absolute best LONG TERM fire fighting tool available: fire

    Allowing the long term mistake of the USFS to go up in smoke and starting over will be the best approach.

    Logging? I am sorry, but all you do there is add fuel to the ground level buildup. You may reduce the likelihood of crown fires, but you still allow the ground level fires to proliferate.

    Fire breaks? We saw how well that worked in Colo. Springs and elsewhere. When the wind is blowing 65 mph, embers are going airborne and a few bull-dozer paths are useless.

    If we concentrate our efforts on protecting the highest concentrations of human dwellings and let the fuel and remote locations burn…. we’ve protected life and property at reduced risk while allowing the century long mistake of putting out every fire we could find.

    Then, in the future, allowing fires to burn is a low risk prospect. The lodgepole pines will remain in their pre-European densities of 3 to 10 per acre, and fires burn the grass and limbs dropped between them rather than the crowns of thousands of LP pines/acre and no grass (because there was no grass).

    The flora and fauna of this continent is adapted to periodic fire. Putting each and every one out and treating each as if it is the end of the world is poor policy for the ecology of the areas which NEED to be burned.

    Common sense dictates that you don’t grow a bunch of flammable crap up next to your home with wooden wall studs behind flammable exteriors and asphalt shingles. If that house goes up in flames….. why do we insure stupidity?

  123. And yet another reason to be upset with the stupid federal bureaucracy:

    After 11 years, U.S. Fire Program Analysis system still isn’t ready
    Eleven years ago, federal agencies announced a bold strategy to battle the growing threat of catastrophic wildfires.

    Across the West, vast expanses of forests had grown dangerously thick from decades of all-out fire suppression. At their edges, an army of urban refugees bored deeper and deeper into the woods, building dream homes in the trees.

    The government’s planned response: a sophisticated new computer system — called Fire Program Analysis, or FPA — that would enable firefighting agencies to coordinate their efforts and maximize their resources.

    For years, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has warned Congress in reports and committee hearings that federal firefighting agencies were failing to develop the vital new tool they promised more than a decade ago.

    Tom Tidwell, the Forest Service chief … acknowledged that the Forest Service faces daunting challenges in its efforts to control wildfires, a task that has grown from 13 percent to 48 percent of the agency budget since 1995. He said unnaturally thick growths of trees have accumulated in “65 million acres just in the nation’s forests,” which the Forest Service is hoping to treat with thinning and burning measures at a rate of up to 4 million acres a year.

    FPA was established [in 2001] after officials in Congress and the White House Office of Management and Budget grew unhappy with the way federal agencies developed their wildland-fire budget requests, believing them to be wish lists rather than based on cost-effective analysis, said Stephen Botti, who led the project in its first phases before retiring as the National Park Service’s fire-program planning manager.

    But when the tool was used for a preliminary analysis in 2006, not everyone liked what it found, Botti said. The results showed which areas needed more resources and which needed less, throwing into uncertainty budgets used for staff programs and some administrative overhead, he said.

    For instance, one recommendation was to move resources from coastal Alaska, where wildfires are relatively rare, to California, where they regularly wreak havoc in populated areas, Botti said.

    “We’re talking about a couple of billion dollars in federal wildland-fire funds here,” he said. “Any time you tinker with that, it becomes political in a hurry. There was pushback from the bureaus that the answer was not acceptable. This was mainly the Forest Service objecting to that.”

    MORE HERE

  124. Current weather conditions (July 1 2012 16:43) 99 deg F and 5% relative humidity here in the west Denver Metro area. All we are missing is a bit of wind, and we are back into serious red flag conditions. Colorado Springs (and counties to the south of it) are currently under Red flag warning.

    National Weather service has just announced June 2012 is hottest on record. They do fail to note that temperatures are now recorded out at DIA (very large airfield, with no near by tree cover or bodies of water) It is surrounded for miles and miles by open prairie. Its temperature behavior is not at all comparable to Stapleton air field or inside the city of Denver, where many of the older records were set, so this “record heat” is more an artifact of the current measuring methods than any real change in temperatures. This summer so far has not been out of the ordinary for a hot summer compared to many summers I remember in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

    DAILY RECORDS:

    DATE TEMPERATURE TYPE OF RECORD OLD RECORD YEAR(S) SET
    JUNE 4TH 94 DEGREES NEW RECORD MAX 93 DEGREES 1946, 1977
    1990, 2010

    JUNE 9TH 95 DEGREES TIED RECORD MAX 95 DEGREES 1922, 2002
    JUNE 17TH 98 DEGREES NEW RECORD MAX 97 DEGREES 2007
    JUNE 18TH 100 DEGREES NEW RECORD MAX 99 DEGREES 1936, 1990
    JUNE 22ND 102 DEGREES NEW RECORD MAX 98 DEGREES 1874
    JUNE 23RD 104 DEGREES NEW RECORD MAX 102 DEGREES 1954
    JUNE 24TH 102 DEGREES NEW RECORD MAX 100 DEGREES 2007
    JUNE 25TH 105 DEGREES NEW RECORD MAX 100 DEGREES 1991
    JUNE 26TH 105 DEGREES NEW RECORD MAX 104 DEGREES 1994
    JUNE 26TH 71 DEGREES NEW RECORD HI MIN 68 DEGREES 1936 PREVIOUS YEARS

    PRECIPITATION.

    PRECIPITATION FOR THE MONTH WAS 1.22 INCHES…WHICH IS 0.76 INCHES
    BELOW THE NORMAL 0F 1.98 INCHES. ALL OF THIS PRECIPITATION FELL ON
    THE 6TH AND 7TH WHEN STRONG TO SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS MOVED ACROSS
    PORTIONS OF THE DENVER METRO AREA. THERE WERE 8 THUNDERSTORMS
    OBSERVED AT DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT DURING THE MONTH. THERE
    WERE NO DAYS WITH DENSE FOG WITH A VISIBILITY AT OR BELOW 1/4 MILE
    DURING THE MONTH. THE PEAK WIND OF 67 MPH FROM A WESTERLY DIRECTION
    OCCURRED ON THE 26TH.

  125. Of course, if Evergreen wanted to really p*ss them off, what they’d do is go and fly a few firefighting missions anyway – drop in a nice photogenic area where a pile of camera crews were filming the fire encroaching on a bunch of houses so that they were all over the TV, and THEN go to press saying the forest service were threatening to prosecute them for trying to help…

  126. This sounds like a macro-example of something that always annoys me living in a winter climate.

    When we get a serious dump of snow, which is rare in Calgary but does happen from time to time, the City is so busy worrying about their snow clearing budget that they often do not adequately deal with the problem. The result is dozens or hundreds of vehicle collisions, sliding into ditches or bridge abutments, with untold property damage and personal injury.

    It is a false economy. The City doesn’t “save” any money, all they do is push the expense that they SHOULD be managing onto private insurance companies and the health care system.

    The correct course of action, whether it’s a city, state or federal department, is to do what needs to be done to protect and serve the population, then calculate the cost later.

    By the way, having had some friends who used to fight fires in Alberta and B.C. forests, I very much appreciate the knowledge and depth of comments left on this thread. No, there are no easy answers, and there very well may be valid reasons the Evergreen 747s are not being used, however it also appears they would be great assets for certain types of fires. I’m sure even a rudimentary cost/benefit analysis would show they should be available.

    It also seems that if the warmist believers were truly sincere in their beliefs, they would want this equipment available for what they must believe is a virtual certainty in the future… more, and more severe, fires.

  127. I just got back from the tanker base, the Convair 580’s are gone. They have been re-tasked to South Dakota. Two of the C130’s are on the ramp for the night and the third the COANG 130 just departed tanker base. Not sure if he is flying north to make one last drop (sun set locally) or returning to home base (probably Buckley AFB for the night).

    Larry

  128. GoneWithTheWind says July 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Evergreen was involved with the CIA during Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush II and Obama administrations.

    So was I; I was the one paying

    .

  129. Howard says:
    July 1, 2012 at 9:51 am
    Bill
    My bro is active CalFire flying the twin engine hueys running buckets on longlines. The consensus among his circle of wildland firefighters and pilots is that big jets cannot go slow enough nor low enough to drop their load with enough precision or concentration to do any good. Cali has deployed the DC10 (The Govenator knew how to fake heroic gestures for the rubes and punters) which was great for PR and completely ineffective on the ground. Water from these supertankers completely evaporated before hitting the ground like virga.

    Sounds like the wrong tool in the wrong place used both improperly and too high above the ground, Howard. Kudos to your brother on the longline work — any time you’re suspending the bucket farther than 50 feet below the belly of the aircraft requires extraordinary skill to control the load.

    A. Scott says:
    July 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm
    The attacks on the Obama administration over their failure to maintain an adequate availability of fire fighting aircraft are entirely valid. Not only have they blown off Evergreen, but as the “Aero” story above noted also have shut down other private contractors – over bureaucracy and little more.
    In that case the company passed all airworthiness requirements – their aircraft were certified safe to fly. Some pencil pusher however decided they didn’t like their long term maintenance plan. So they cancelled their contract and refused to use them – their 8 aircraft sat idle while Texas burned – for zero valid reason.

    It sounds like someone in the FAA overstepped his bounds — they have no mandate to tell a company how to run their long-term maintenance plan, just to insure that their *current* maintenance operation is effective. And if it wasn’t an FAA pencil-pusher who made the call, the contractor has solid grounds to file a whopping lawsuit.

  130. A MAFFS aircraft just crashed on a fire in south Dakota possibly two survivors.
    I get tired of seeing people die this year, folks…

  131. Word for word from a California State bureaucrat to a contractor working for a local government on a project that should require minimal, if any, environmental oversight: ” common sense has nothing to do with it. We’re dealing with lawyers.” I could point to other cities that have a simlar legal-excedrin headaches, but there are NDAs in effect.

    One of the “loop holes” that environmental law provides is access for every “not-in-my-backyard, neighborhood, city, county, …” crackpot and zealot to mount their soapbox and explain why more jobs in this neighbor hood would be a “bad thing.” This frequently be explained to a board at a public hearing by a clueless character wearing an N95 mask to protect themselves from automotive gases or something similarly futile and misinformed. There’s no commonsense in what is presented but as far as the elected board members are concerned, the fellow in the mask is a voter.

    This isn’t to say that environmental regulation hasn’t achieved some very notable successes. However, once you start to deal with laws, you start to deal with lawyers, and a lawyer’s job is to convincingly put words in the mouths law makers that frequently were never there, nor intended. We tend to forget that one of the major reasons that industry has fled country is not just regulations, but how they are used. And those uses are frequently by small, loud, minority groups whose interests are frequently outright insane. But, if they can afford a lawyer, there will be one willing to take up their cause and fight it as far as possible. Clean water and clean air (not air with less CO2, but less of other, far more noxious substances) are good things. But, in the hands of a lawyer, especially a good one, laws intended to achieve this can be turned into nightmares.

  132. “Putting the Forest Service in charge of a forest is like putting Jack Kevorkian in charge of a cancer clinic.” -Dave Hannah, retired graverobber (US Park service archeologist)

  133. Looks like the aircraft that crashed on the White Draw fire has been identified:

    http://theaviationist.com/

    At 18.00LT on Jul. 1, a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) equipped C-130H, identified as serial number 92-1454 (156 AS/145AW NC ANG), supporting firefighting missions against the White Draw Fire, crashed in the southwest corner of South Dakota.

    My condolences to the unit, family and friends of the crew who were involved in the crash.

    Larry

  134. Several pictures I have found on the web show that serial number recently painted with the tanker ID MAFFS number 7.
    Larry

  135. Whatever happened to fire-breaks in forests? Or are we not allowed to cut down trees any more?

    Whatever happened to the strategy of setting fires each year, to keep the tinder down to minimum levels – did that not work?

    .

    • Silver Ralph, the letting the fire burn strategy. The answer is complicated. Letting the fire burn was blatently practiced until hundred of homes and ranches were burnt down. After burning up so may properties by so-called controlled fires getting out of hand the practice was scrapped, at least concerning the public knowledge of it. All allowing of burning is now secret. In fariness, there is some allowing out of actual necessity.

      The sin of Big Fire is “allowing” is happening at the beginning of fires, the most important moment is intentionally muffed.

      When you see a big fire you have to wonder how it got there. Was it unusual winds and an inaccessible location? Or was it firefighters having a nice lunch while they wait for their business to shall we say, build. Fire is money.

      Solution one: change the system to reward putting the fire out instead of keeping it going.

      It is this beginning point where you see if you fire service is competent or not. If fires were aggressive knocked out when they are small, then where is the money to be made in the fire business? The fire business should get top pay with bonuses for a fast attack quick put out and they should get minimum wage if they don’t knock it out at the beginning. The management should be hired and fired on this basis too.

      Solution two: Bring back the loggers.

      We need to let the loggers back in to do their skilled job and get the government behind then. Then we need to train thousands of young new loggers to clear the woods, cut wide strips out. This kind of stripping is very healthy for the woods too. We have thousands of saw-ready jobs, waiting to happen. Instead we have this bloated, let it burn industry. Wouldn’t all this wood be better burnt in wood stoves or used to build houses? All this wood could have heated Denver in the winter.

  136. Speculation alert!
    Some people are ignorant of what is actually dropped, and of airplane delivery capability.

    Fact:
    The scoopers and bucketers inject a foaming/gelling agent into the water. The Mars operation evaluates their mix onsite to ensure the ratio is right for the local water. In the mission of out Del Rio TX into Mexico the combination was whitish.
    I don’t recall what the landplanes load, but I expect it is a premix of a chemical into lots of water, it may have a secondary function as fertilizer. This page makes sense in that regard: http://www.afrc.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=10358.

    Fact:
    Many large tankers have multiple compartments and doors, so they can hit a small hot spot, lay a swath, or do a big dump. The CV580 that crashed in BC a few years ago had 8 compartments, but only planned to drop one on that run. Often controlled by a logic box. Conair recently modified one of their designs to be more consistent in laying a long swath. The Mars was tested for good pattern, using an array of buckets on the ground. (IIRC Evergreen’s 747 takes a different approach to dropping, perhaps a throttleable chute. The MAFFS system for C-130s is a pressure-driven system, in various versions, the later one discharging through a nozzle in the paratroop doors just forward of the ramp.)

  137. Unfortunately there’s silly conspiracy theory posts herein, I suspect the problem is as Evergreen states re small business preference plus bureaucratic rigidity on cost-effectiveness in normal fires (as I’ve pointed to), and perhaps other politics. IIRC one area in California paid the Mars to be on standby in a nearby lake one summer. The shortage of tankers was predicted: http://www.rotor.com/Publications/RotorNewssupregsup/tabid/177/mid/1237/newsid1237/75012/Default.aspx. However, note that there has been extreme concern about safety of some of the old tankers including the P2Vs and the old Hercs. (One Herc fell out of the air due wing breakage from undetected cracking. I presume the NG’s Hercs are much newer.)

    Recognize as well that the customer may avoid or terminate based on trust or failure to perform – an issue that arose when the accident investigation revealed that Carson had mis-represented the payload of their S-61s (whether deliberate or incompetent, they weren’t fulfilling their contract). USFS should have that flexibility, otherwise the job won’t be done as well and taxpayers aren’t getting value for their money. It is difficult to provide details publicly, in the Carson case the accident investigators eventually did and it was “not pretty”.

    As far as Evergreen’s operations, they have been broad, perhaps some spook stuff with C212s, probably a lot of routine freight hauling for the US military. Rather rough and ready, had some jerks in engineering in the 1990s so I’d be wary of them, but I expect there is lots of experience and capability in the company (needs solid leadership to apply it).

  138. Solution two: Bring back the loggers.

    They used to have open fire wood collection areas, that anyone could go and fill up a pickup truck or trailer with fire wood for free. It was sort of a voluntary thinning system where people who had fireplaces and wood burning stoves could get free firewood for the effort involved in gathering it from the designated fire wood areas. They also used to allow public Christmas tree harvesting in certain areas.

    I imagine both of them fell victim to commercial interests who were losing money by the public gathering their own firewood / Christmas trees.

    The advent of strict regulations on wood burning (no burn days) and requirements for catalytic systems on wood stoves to limit smoke production for winter air quality reasons has greatly diminished natural wood burning in the metro areas.

    I don’t recall either option being offered in the last few years but frankly have not actively looked for the information either since I moved out of the mountains and no longer have friends with wood stoves or fire places who were inclined to invite me along for a wood cutting party.

    Larry

  139. @ Larry Ledwick (hotrod) on July 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm:

    Here in Pennsylvania I’ve been assaulted for some years with public service announcements about the emerald ash borer beetle, “Don’t move firewood”, use it where you get it, don’t take unused wood home from your campsite, etc. (Not bringing wood from home to your campsite is implied.)

    It wouldn’t be surprising if those free wood and trees programs were stopped to prevent the spread of infestations, from beetles and bugs to fungi.

    How necessary such precautions are in a certain region is another discussion. The adopting of a “one size fits all” policy for the entire nation would also not be surprising.

  140. Keith Sketchley says:
    July 2, 2012 at 11:58 am
    However, note that there has been extreme concern about safety of some of the old tankers including the P2Vs and the old Hercs. (One Herc fell out of the air due wing breakage from undetected cracking. I presume the NG’s Hercs are much newer.)

    The C-130H that crashed was manufactured in ’92 — actual aircraft age has little bearing on metal fatigue, it’s the accumulation of recurring stress on the structural components.

  141. More info on the MAFFS air tanker crash

    Sadly, this reports 4 of 6 on board perished. Please take a moment to appreciate the sacrifice these airmen made.

    This aircraft had just cycled out of Colorado Springs where it helped get the Waldo fire under control.

    The story indicated the “lead” plane experienced a severe downdraft approaching the drop zone, with the C-130 following.

  142. Also from the excellent http://www.wildfiretoday.com site:

    Secretary of Agriculture explains why very large air tankers are not being used on Colorado fires
    Posted on July 2, 2012 by Bill Gabbert
    A reporter for 9news.com in Colorado, in the video below, asked Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who supervises the U.S. Forest Service, why the very large air tankers like the two DC-10s or the 747 have not been used on fires in Colorado. His answers revolved around “every fire is different” and “it’s complicated”.

    video avail here

  143. Very sad news indeed. With the combination of altitude, high winds, smoke, low level, high stress flying heavy traffic, radio chatter and fire induced turbulence, it is a testament to the skill, bravery and training of the air crews that crashes are not more frequent.

  144. “Today, only small businesses are eligible for contract awards concerning air tanker assets”

    This is not accurate. I am a government contracting officer and there is certainly not a prohibition on using large businesses.

  145. Perhaps a better wording would be ‘today small and minority owned businesses have a significant advantage regarding government contracts’

  146. As to risks of fighting fires, examples include crashes of a CV-580 (http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/aviation/2010/a10p0244/a10p0244.pdf), and an Electra (http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/aviation/2003/a03p0194/a03p0194.asp. http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/summary/aar1006.html summary and
    http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2010/AAR1006.pdf report cover the Carson S-61 crash in northern California it was picking up firefighters – Carson botched helicopter weight records and the crew failed to adjust their performance expectations for the higher weight after refuelling.

    My take is that the flight crew have to be very disciplined – make sure they accurately understand the route the spotter gives them, obtain and maintain excellent situational awareness on the fly, and “fly the numbers” (hold proper speeds). (In one crash in Canada the pilots did not turn down the valley as planned by the spotter, instead turned the other way into rising terrain (it is difficult to judge terrain visually). I understand the first Mars was lost because the crew flew into rising terrain.)

    Operating big aircraft economically and safely, whether piston or turbine-powered, takes dedication and expertise. Knowing how to baby those big radials, inspect structure, and deal with aerodynamic and engine response are key factors. (The turbofans prior to computer control, such as on old 747s and DC-10s, are slow to respond to the throttle whereas the CV580, Electra, and Herc are quick due to their constant speed single-shaft engine design.) Even keeping track of aircraft weight challenged some people at Carson.

  147. Bill Tuttle:
    Which C-130 are you talking of?
    I spoke of the one that had a wing or two break a few years ago – a privately operated one, not the National Guard one that crashed on July 1, 2012.

    While technically it is possible to keep old aircraft going well, it can be very difficult to do so. The civilian Herc that came out of the air a few decades ago in the SE US, the Herc fire tanker a few years ago, and the Chalks amphib a few years ago illustrate the difficulty. All due undetected fatigue cracking, IIRC two of them in locations difficult to inspect.

    Corrosion is a risk that does increase with age, varying greatly with environment. SE US more risky than cold dry climates, for example. Sea coasts are a factor, and in humid places like middle Africa microbes grow in jet fuel and cause corrosion of wing structure.

    As I say in the post I just made about safety, it takes dedication and expertise. In the 1970s Lockheed-Georgia’s support was good (especially after the Herc fell out of the air in the SE US), I expect it is today.

    There are aging aircraft programs – I don’t know how the Herc wing-fold a few years ago related to them. I know the Mars had an engineering evaluation done several years ago, by people I have confidence in.

    Fire tankers often have the scheduling advantage of of an off season during which intensive inspections and repairs can be done, but the operator has to spend the money and have or contract the expertise..

  148. Bill Tuttle:
    Here is a mention of what probably is the Herc wing-fold crash several years ago: http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/489436-c-130-maffs-air-tanker-goes-down-south-dakota.html
    “The other C130 lost was a very early ex USAF airplane which had been operated by the CIA and for a long period had no docuemented repair and service records.

    Both wings detached from the centre section caused by joint failure.”

    Not saying that person is accurate in all respects.
    You should be able to find the accident report at http://www.ntsb.gov, but the search UI takes fiddling.

  149. According to an April 23, 2004 letter from the NTSB to the FAA and government departments responsible for fighting forest fires, there were two cases of inflight failure of C-130A wings while fighting forest fires:
    On August 13, 1994 one crashed near Pearblossom CA, registered as N135FF. It was delivered to USAF in December 1957. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19940813-1 (some early confusion as to cause – fuel tank ignition but actually structural fatigue)
    On June 17, 2002 one crashed near Walker CA, registered as N130HP. It was delivered to USAF in December 1957. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=20020617-0 and http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2004/Apr-24-Sat-2004/news/23730288.html.

    On July 18, 2002, a Consolidated Vultee P4Y Privateer, N7620C, was lost due to wing failure while fighting a forest fire near Estes Park CO. (I incorrectly referred to P2V Neptune, a 2-engined airplane, which Wikipedia says have a service life of 15,000 hours.) http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=20020718-0

    Some history of the 2002 crashes and subsequent actions at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_airtanker_crashes.

  150. All cases were due to undetected fatigue cracking. A complication of inspecting is multiple layers of skin material, so crack initiation could be between the outer layer (often a reinforcement/repair “doubler”) and stringer or spar cap. (I am advised that the the Chalk’s Ocean Airways Grumman G-73T Turbine Mallard that crashed off of Miami had a similar complication. http://www.sae.org/events/pama/jetblast/200701/ has a bit of information on inspection, http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2007/AAR0704.pdf is the NTSB report.)

    According to the letter, the experienced operator Conair found that firetanker operation of the F27 resulted in a “Damage Rate Factor” 5.7 times that of normal transport operations. I recall that USAF operations of C-130E/Hs were more damaging than civilian operations, due to (for example) training low-level flying and “assault” landings.

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