Forum Index > Trail Talk > Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz says.
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Canyon1
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PostWed Sep 09, 2020 9:27 am 
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Saw this coming a mile away, so thought I would pass it along.

"It appears that all of the 58 fires that started on Monday in Washington state were caused by humans in some way, state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz says. It is believed that the fires were caused by humans, because there were no lightning strikes where the fires started, Franz said.

Franz and Gov. Jay Inslee spoke during a press conference Tuesday afternoon about the 58 fires that started in the state on Monday and their spread. Of those fires, nine major fires remain, Franz said. More than 300,000 acres burned in Washington state on Monday alone, more than double the amount of land that burned all of last year."

The Governor adds in; “If you can, avoid being outside for anything that will even cause a spark,” Inslee said. “I hope people can avoid those conditions. It’s not just fires, it is literally sparks that can cause these fires when these conditions are this dry.”

Taken from Wenatchee World. It has always been a propane canister for me or cold soak and never a campfire with one exception. That being in a developed campsites.  shakehead.gif
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RatherBOutdoors
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PostFri Sep 11, 2020 7:23 am 
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I thought there was some evidence that (some of) the fires were caused by power lines knocked down during high winds.  It that still considered a human cause?
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gb
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PostFri Sep 11, 2020 7:55 am 
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I am firmly of the opinion that fines for fires in times of restricted and dangerous conditions should be in the area of $50,000 regardless of recreational, agricultural, or property improvement. Jail time of six months should also be mandatory. There are too many stupid people and something needs to get their attention.

In addition, civil proceedings should be pursued for full restitution.
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altasnob
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PostFri Sep 11, 2020 8:38 am 
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Some fires are started intentionally be severely mentally ill people. All the fines and jail in the world will not prevent them from starting fires. Fines and civil penalties are worthless when the person starting the fire has no money. It's about a total restructuring of society where we fully fund mental health services and stop forgetting about people on the fringes.

Man who started brush fire in Parkland waved after throwing match, troopers say


“This guy lit a match in front of everybody, chucked it into the grass and waved at everyone,” Trooper Ryan Burke said. After a brief foot chase, a 29-year-old Tacoma man was arrested.

And in a separate incident, man charged with starting SR 167 fire bailed out of jail and immediately broke into a convenience store three blocks from the police station.
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gb
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 6:27 am 
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altasnob wrote:
Some fires are started intentionally be severely mentally ill people. All the fines and jail in the world will not prevent them from starting fires. Fines and civil penalties are worthless when the person starting the fire has no money. It's about a total restructuring of society where we fully fund mental health services and stop forgetting about people on the fringes. [url=https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/crime/article245637155.html]

That "some" is probably just one or two as opposed to 58 human caused fires. I'd like to see us put a dent in the other 56.
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treeswarper
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 7:05 am 
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Early reports on the highly accurate Facebook group ( sarcasm)  had reports of two vehicles stopping then leaving and fires starting from where they were stopped.  That was the big Cold Springs fire.  Coulda been the old catalytic converter ignition as well as arson.  Or a cigarette.  We don't know.

The next day's start, which I saw from my street viewpoint,  was the rekindling of a sawdust dump that has had smoke popping up since July.  It took off quickly and burned what the Cold Springs fire didn't.  We had 50mph gusts that day.  I am surprised that the tribe had not been monitoring it.  They were stretched thin that morning but that fire came close to burning the casino and East Lmao.  Lmao is my tablet refusing to accept the name of this town.

On Tuesday a suburb on the west side of the river was at level two evacuation stage.  The old mill had caught fire and chunky embers blew across the river.  I started gathering important stuff together.  I walked down to a view spot and could see they were making progress on that spot so felt better.

The state has relied on air tankers and helicopters more du to the virus.  What was working the fires here were the small water scooping planes.  I suspect they were the only resource available.

Note that nothing could have stopped tha,Cold Springs fire.  The wind was ferocious that day.  All that could be done was to evacuate and that seems to have worked.

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Canyon1
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 7:10 am 
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Let's remember what the gov't officials are saying about spreading rumors and misinformation. Not saying there are any here.
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 8:04 am 
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Trees build biomass where stress is greatest, so most of our trees are heavily buttressed for the prevailing winds from the west.  When a big wind comes from the east, even healthy trees can go down.

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altasnob
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 8:47 am 
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gb wrote:
That "some" is probably just one or two as opposed to 58 human caused fires. I'd like to see us put a dent in the other 56.

RCW 9A.48.050
Reckless burning in the second degree
.
(1) A person is guilty of reckless burning in the second degree if he or she knowingly causes a fire or explosion, whether on his or her own property or that of another, and thereby recklessly places a building or other structure, or any vehicle, railway car, aircraft, or watercraft, or any hay, grain, crop or timber, whether cut or standing, in danger of destruction or damage.
(2) Reckless burning in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor.

c) RECKLESSNESS. A person is reckless or acts recklessly when he or she knows of and disregards a substantial risk that a wrongful act may occur and his or her disregard of such substantial risk is a gross deviation from conduct that a reasonable person would exercise in the same situation.

Anyone who starts any of the 56 fires can likely be charged with the crime above (if they are caught). This could include conduct like throwing a lit cigarette out the window or leaving camp with the fire still going. The crime above, a gross misdemeanor, has a maximum penalty of $5,000 fine and 364 days in jail.

So we already have laws that can carry a hefty punishment for this behavior. Catching the individuals is another story. My greater point is increasing criminal/civil penalties doesn't necessarily solve societies problems.
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altasnob
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 8:57 am 
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Sculpin wrote:
Trees build biomass where stress is greatest, so most of our trees are heavily buttressed for the prevailing winds from the west.  When a big wind comes from the east, even healthy trees can go down.

From my understanding, the fires in Oregon and California were mostly started by lightning strike. But Washington didn't get the same lightning so ours were mostly human started. The high temps combined with stiff east winds were highly, highly, unusual and are responsible for the unprecedented fire situation we are seeing. Why didn't all the powers that be (Governor, National Forests, ect) enact a mandatory stay at home order last Monday? The winds only lasted about 48 hours, so the order would have only been needed for 48 hours. If everyone in Washington was forced to sit in their house for the 2 days, there would have been a lot less fires started.

I understand a mandatory stay at home order would have been unprecedented and highly unusual. It should be reserved for extreme situations. But to me, the weather event we just experienced qualifies as an extreme situation that should have warranted an extreme response. The weather event was so extreme it is probably something we will only see once in our lifetimes.
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treeswarper
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 9:05 am 
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Some kind of east wind event is normal for the west side.  It's another one of those every 300 years or so there is a stand replacement event (forestry jargon).  Think of it as being like earthquakes--both have a history here.   That's why the PNW has so much Douglas-fir growing.  DF is an early seral species and will come in after a fire, and in the lower elevations, after and during alder establishment.  In the early 1900s there was the Yacolt Burn, and a bit later, the historical Tillamook Burn.  Both of those were blown into large fires by east winds. 

Just read most of a book about the Peninsula area in the 1860s and there is mention of a large fire set there by a tribe who tried to burn out another tribe, but the fire got much larger than planned.  Human caused fires existed before Europeans came along.

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altasnob
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 9:13 am 
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From my understanding, the high heat, and high east wind, occurring at the end of summer, but before the rains come in, is something that has occurred and will occur, but not something that occurs very often. And when it does occur, it is something that will likely lead to massive fires on the west side (like you point out). So in other words, this huge fire event was highly predictable a few days before it occurred because everyone knew that we were about to get a heat wave with high east winds. So we had a chance to take necessary precautions, but didn't. Side note-this kind of weather will almost always include a low pressure coming down the front range of the Rockies (hence the snow Colorado just got). Front range Colorado gets big September snow storms every 5 to 10 years or so, but it is not a normal thing.

And allot of those old, huge, west side fires that we know about (like Tillamook burn) were also human caused, correct? I think the Tillamook burn was most likely caused by logging operations.
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altasnob
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 9:29 am 
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From an article I just read in the Seattle Times:

Gusts out of the east Monday topped 55 mph in the Columbia River Gorge, clocked in at nearly 50 mph near White Pass and hit 26 mph in Seattle.

By Tuesday, the Cascade Mountains’ west slope was parched. Relative humidity measures dropped as low as 6%.

“Six percent is like Joshua Tree — desert,” Clark said. “It doesn’t get much lower. I guess on Mars.”

In early September 1902, a series of fires — buoyed by an east wind — sprang up in Southwest Washington. Now known as the Yacolt Burn.

Joshua Halofsky, a research scientist with the Washington DNR, said the Yacolt Burn bears remarkable resemblance to the events last week.

Massive fires across the western slopes of Washington and Oregon’s Cascades — such as the Yacolt and the Tillamook Burn, which began in the 1930s — share a common recipe.

“You need the end of summer after a warm and dry period, an ignition source and those east winds,” Halofsky said. “You need that rare alignment of all these key ingredients to get these large fires going.”

“There’s always enough fuel on the landscape” to burn, Halofsky said, adding that scientists believe large fires swept through dense Western Washington forests every hundred years or so. These fires are considered “stand-replacing” — meaning entire swaths of the forest would be seared away and set to regrow.

One fire episode — in 1701 — burned between 3 and 10 million acres in Western Washington, Halofsky said, citing a forest service review.

Along with Halofsky, Raymond is among a team of scientists trying to determine whether these east wind events are growing more or less frequent or intense.

“We have clear evidence climate change is setting the stage. The piece we don’t have is whether climate change is affecting these east wind events that trigger” these large wildfires, Raymond said.

“I wasn’t expecting to see an east wind-driven fire event like this in my life, but here it is,” said Daniel Gavin, professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
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jinx'sboy
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 9:37 am 
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I recall talking with a fire ecologist, years back, who spoke about the ‘300 yr event’ that TW mentions.  I dont recall the exact year - something like 1650-1700, within the stories of those who would have been the first to have European contact a 100 years later - there was an epic fire, born out by numerous tree ring studies.  Late summer lightning storms lit fires all up and down the Cascades, after a very dry summer.  East winds drove the fire west, the big drainages functioning like blow-torches, and much of the west side burned, from the Columbia R to the Fraser R, and out onto the Olympic Peninsula,

Altasnob is right about the front range Colorado snow events, although it hasnt happened regularly for quite a while.  When I was in college in Fort Collins in the early 70’s, I recall registering for fall classes, usually about the 3rd week of Septemer - and having a snow on the ground during that time, during 3 of the 4 years I was there.
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treeswarper
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 9:51 am 
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Back in da not so old days, we'd get a rain in September.   This rain would inspire the not so experienced fire gurus to start their fall slash burns.  This was also the time east winds were common, which would dry things out and rekindle the slash burns making October into a busy month for the fight 'em part.  I am referring to the you light 'em, we fight 'em slogan. 

It is an unpleasant time to go on fires due to short days and long, cold nights.

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