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rdgbwca
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08/15/2018 08:19AM

Hello,

The latest episode of the outside podcast discusses the Pagami Creek Wildfire. There is an interview with two people who survived the fire in kayaks. There are also interviews with park rangers.

The story is a very dramatic survival tale.

I thought it might be of interest to others on the forum as it has first hand accounts of the fire.

podcast about the Pagami creek fire
 
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MHS67
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08/15/2018 09:36AM
Interesting. I thought this sounded familiar. I checked and these people were photo journalist.
smoke11
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08/15/2018 10:05AM
Wow! That was very interesting!
billconner
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08/15/2018 02:14PM
Wow is right! Great listen.

I didn't hear what tlake they were on when it fubar. Kawasachong? Two "long portages"from Polly and right in the midst of eastern most reach of the fire?
WhiteWolf
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08/15/2018 02:40PM
I will say that having a trip planned in early Sept that year with a Morgan Lake entry -- and following the weather VERY closely ( and being a professional in weather and forecasting for 20+ years ) before the fire-- during the fire and what lead to the "unforecasted Blow up" that moved the fire so quickly as mentioned by Sexton is mostly hog wash. My .02. It was obvious. The day before the fire got "loose" the forecast 36 to 24 hours out was -- "NW winds 15-25Mph with Gust to 35mph" Dropping RH values are quite certain with NW winds at the time of year (or any really). I will just say this and end my rant- there was no way they (NFS) had a competent weather person(people) on staff if the weather staff didn't mention a "serious" issue was about to unfold. Society likes to hammer the weather folk when they are wrong over and over -- and for many times good reason--- this is one that is obvious even to weather folk. Blatant disregard IMO was shown to the power that was available - computer models ?? please they are worthless without a trained mind to read them. Sorry for the rant.
Jaywalker
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08/15/2018 03:32PM
billconner: "I didn't hear what tlake they were on when it fubar. Kawasachong? Two "long portages"from Polly and right in the midst of eastern most reach of the fire?"
Yes, Kawasachong. The announcer pronounced Kawishiwi rather differently than I do so I didn't recognize it at first and weren't sure where they were until I googled them.
08/15/2018 04:02PM
WhiteWolf: "I will say that having a trip planned in early Sept that year with a Morgan Lake entry -- and following the weather VERY closely ( and being a professional in weather and forecasting for 20+ years ) before the fire-- during the fire and what lead to the "unforecasted Blow up" that moved the fire so quickly as mentioned by Sexton is mostly hog wash. My .02. It was obvious. The day before the fire got "loose" the forecast 36 to 24 hours out was -- "NW winds 15-25Mph with Gust to 35mph" Dropping RH values are quite certain with NW winds at the time of year (or any really). I will just say this and end my rant- there was no way they (NFS) had a competent weather person(people) on staff if the weather staff didn't mention a "serious" issue was about to unfold. Society likes to hammer the weather folk when they are wrong over and over -- and for many times good reason--- this is one that is obvious even to weather folk. Blatant disregard IMO was shown to the power that was available - computer models ?? please they are worthless without a trained mind to read them. Sorry for the rant." Plus, if I remember correctly, the spring and early summerof 2011 were very wet. By July though, the rain had stopped. All through July and August there was very little, if any, measurable rain. Conditions were ripe for a big fire.
WhiteWolf
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08/15/2018 04:21PM
egknuti: "WhiteWolf: "I will say that having a trip planned in early Sept that year with a Morgan Lake entry -- and following the weather VERY closely ( and being a professional in weather and forecasting for 20+ years ) before the fire-- during the fire and what lead to the "unforecasted Blow up" that moved the fire so quickly as mentioned by Sexton is mostly hog wash. My .02. It was obvious. The day before the fire got "loose" the forecast 36 to 24 hours out was -- "NW winds 15-25Mph with Gust to 35mph" Dropping RH values are quite certain with NW winds at the time of year (or any really). I will just say this and end my rant- there was no way they (NFS) had a competent weather person(people) on staff if the weather staff didn't mention a "serious" issue was about to unfold. Society likes to hammer the weather folk when they are wrong over and over -- and for many times good reason--- this is one that is obvious even to weather folk. Blatant disregard IMO was shown to the power that was available - computer models ?? please they are worthless without a trained mind to read them. Sorry for the rant." Plus, if I remember correctly, the spring and early summerof 2011 were very wet. By July though, the rain had stopped. All through July and August there was very little, if any, measurable rain. Conditions were ripe for a big fire."


Your correct. Even though the fire was limited to a "swamp" for the first week or so-- other areas nearby (down wind-) ) were "potentially" able to be easily "compromised", if certain weather parameters would "show up". I can tell you without a shadow of doubt this was the case and if I have time at work some time I would (will) be able to show this in graphics. (Very time consuming at this time so far from the event) I understand the Forest Serive mentality of allowing fires to burn "on their own" and all-- but this was a case SEVERAL days out that the potential meteorological conditions was (were becoming) Highly available for the "Swamp" to get out of control. I told several co-workers that if this fire is not out in 48 hours that it's not going to be good. I had no understanding of the old growth forest- or the deep fire aspect of the area-- just that weather wise from around 2 days out that the synoptic winds and resulting relative humidity would not bode well. Whether it would have made a difference with the man power at the time on the fire - I don't know. But to say as Sexton did that they had little idea it could blow up like it did -- makes my field look like many think it does-- "The weather people get paid for being right or wrong" REAL weather people saw the potential. And human life was at risk, and that is sole purpose of short term weather forecasting per the National Weather Service's doctrine in protecting life and property. IMO- the Pagami Creek fire in it's big burn was the ultimate failure of those that had the "potential" to stop it. Easily. Covering this fact up (not sure if that is what Sexton is doing) with "busts" in computer generated models is akin to professionals trusting too much in those "models" and not old school forecasting and taking credit/blame for a forecast. Not to say it wouldn't have happened regardless-- but don't "rag" the weather models when all they are is a prognostication based on finite human knowledge and input ( human made) trying to predict an infinite set of variables. In this case- and many others- nature showed the models have a long ways to go. IMO - a proper equipped meteorologist with all the facts MAY have been able to prevent things. But I'am not privy to what the FS uses is such events and we are dealing the GOVT sad to say. Personally - as to the above - if I would have been the MIC (meteorologist in charge) I would have had all the resources possible well before (it's assumed). It's over and done with. In reality- too many variables that I know little about - except the forecasted meteorological conditions from 2 days out.
WhiteWolf
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08/15/2018 04:21PM
Double Post...
MHS67
distinguished member(1394)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/15/2018 04:25PM
About these rangers clearing campers during fire

If you get a chance watch this video. Notice the time between the time they noticed the fire may be closer than originally thought, and the time they had to deploy shelters. Quite a span of time there. Not the, Oh god its here!! as stated in the podcast. Makes you kind of wonder?
billconner
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08/15/2018 07:26PM
Jaywalker: "billconner: "I didn't hear what tlake they were on when it fubar. Kawasachong? Two "long portages"from Polly and right in the midst of eastern most reach of the fire?"
Yes, Kawasachong. The announcer pronounced Kawishiwi rather differently than I do so I didn't recognize it at first and weren't sure where they were until I googled them. "


Yeah. I noticed the unique Kawishiwi pronunciation too. Went looking for it online.

It did not seem like much travel for second day and looking at the maps with burn area marked, too bad they didn't do the two "long" portages into Polly - would gave been out of burn area. Isn't hindsight great?
rdgbwca
distinguished member (120)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/15/2018 08:25PM
MHS67: " About these rangers clearing campers during fire


If you get a chance watch this video. ?"


Thanks for the video. The supervisors certainly gave the rangers bad information.
MHS67
distinguished member(1394)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/15/2018 09:35PM
WhiteWolf, In your statement, IMO- the Pagami Creek Fire in it's big burn was the ultimate failure of those that had the potential to stop it, easily. Here I'm guessing also. If the USFS had your 2 day warning, or even 3 or 4 day warning, I don't see much difference in the outcome. The reason is, it takes time to get enough resources into an area like the BW. Once there all there, line construction has to be done by hand. No dozers, no engines to help. All the people and equipment has to be brought in, no roads to shuttle folks. That area isn't like out here in Calif. where in a day or less we can have that equipment on the fire. Also, airtankers will not work in those kind of winds.

What if the USFS new the weather was coming, and thought if we put people out in front of this thing to try and stop it and it blows up, we now have to get them out safely!
Maybe that's why the Rangers were out clearing the lakes of campers. However they were even late on that. Rdgbwca your right really bad instructions.
08/17/2018 03:02PM
Cool! Very interesting. Thanks for posting! Wasn't awareof this podcast either, so nice to add another one to the mix.
OCDave
distinguished member (208)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/17/2018 03:38PM
rdgbwca: "
Hello,

The latest episode of the outside podcast discusses the Pagami Creek Wildfire. There is an interview with two people who survived the fire in kayaks. There are also interviews with park rangers.

The story is a very dramatic survival tale.

I thought it might be of interest to others on the forum as it has first hand accounts of the fire.

podcast about the Pagami creek fire "


Hey rdgbwca,

Thanks for the recommendation. I follow a lot of podcasts. Tried Outside a few times before but did not find the stories very captivating. This stories is fantastic so far.

Dave
MHS67
distinguished member(1394)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/19/2018 07:25PM
Well, its 5: 20 pm here and still over 100 degrees out. Humidity is in the teens. Good time to get to lessons learned. I try review every now and then. When I go on a canoe trip or backpacking I will go over my notes.

Always check the weather. If I can I get it from more than one source, then take the worst case. Weather is dynamic, expect it to change! Wind effects fire more than anything.
On canoe trips, if there is fires in the area ( Forest Service let burns ) I go somewhere else. Especially if I'm told not to worry. First red flag!
If you are in a position to help people in an emergency, most will have no clue what to do. Expect them to be on the verge of panic. Have a plan to help them. If you show confidence they will follow you.
After the Pagami Creek fire I talked to the Forest Service and asked them why they didn't have a fire safety paper they would hand out with the permit? I even said I would help them write it. They said they already had one and sent me a copy. Its really good too. My next call was why don't they hand them out. Answer, budget cuts. I really think if those folks in the podcast would have read that handout, they could have had at least a chance of getting out of the area before being over run.
I've been in the fire service for almost 45 years, either working or teaching. I still don't have all the answers. So. I try to be prepared.


08/20/2018 08:47PM
I have told my story before so will focus on lessons learned.
I relied on information from the official sources and did not do my own research regarding risks with what I thought was a small fire isolated in a swamp. Paddling in the numbered lakes and seeing the fire on the southern shoreline was a surprise, but there were plenty of folks with gas engine pumps spraying water around the portages and offering no information. We stayed on Fire 9/10 and moved to the island on the north side of Insula on 9/11.
When we went to bed on 9/11 the sky to the south was aglow and we knew the way we came in was not the way we would go out. The morning of 9/12 was smoky and winds kept shifting. Planes began buzzing the lake and rocking wings side to side, a sign I took to evacuate. We loaded up and headed north out through Thomas, glad I had the extra maps along. I had expected some kind of speaker announcing information and overall believe there was a lack of important communication provided to those of us who were in the area.
Lessons learned...do my own research into what is going on with the weather and other critical conditions...including road construction to and from. Ask questions when I pick up my permit. I now carry a weather radio. And I still carry extra maps for alternate routes out.
MHS67
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08/20/2018 10:30PM
bhouse46, did not know that aircraft rocking wings meant to evacuate. Will add that to my list! Thanks.
Another thing on my list is, if forced to take shelter in the lake I will try to go to the far shore away from the fire. That way I can stand on the bottom and help prevent hypothermia. Even if the shore catches fire the wind should blow most of the heat away from you. There will still be some radiant heat but using your canoe over you should help.
rdgbwca
distinguished member (120)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/21/2018 09:12AM
OCDave: "
Hey rdgbwca,

Thanks for the recommendation. I follow a lot of podcasts. Tried Outside a few times before but did not find the stories very captivating. This stories is fantastic so far.

Dave"


Hey Dave,

I don't listen to every episode but they usually do a pretty good job.

You might also check out this one. Dirt bag diaries
rdgbwca
distinguished member (120)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/21/2018 09:15AM
bhouse46: " I had expected some kind of speaker announcing information and overall believe there was a lack of important communication provided to those of us who were in the area.
Lessons learned...do my own research into what is going on with the weather and other critical conditions...including road construction to and from. Ask questions when I pick up my permit. I now carry a weather radio. And I still carry extra maps for alternate routes out."


I think there was a definite lack of communication. In addition, the communication that was happening (as shown in the video) between the supervisors and the rangers was wrong and may have lead people to underestimate the danger.

The fire was putting people in danger and the forest service was not able to warn everyone or close all the camp sites they identified as needing to be closed in a timely manner (according to the video).

The situation escalated quicker than the forest service could react. People had to rely on their own judgement, senses and survival instincts.
OCDave
distinguished member (208)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/21/2018 04:52PM
rdgbwca: "OCDave: "
Hey rdgbwca,


Thanks for the recommendation. I follow a lot of podcasts. Tried Outside a few times before but did not find the stories very captivating. This stories is fantastic so far.


Dave"



Hey Dave,


I don't listen to every episode but they usually do a pretty good job.


You might also check out this one. Dirt bag diaries "


Discovered Dirtbag Diaries through this forum a few months ago. I have probably listened to almost every available episode. It does inspire me to add a bit more adventure to my life.
 
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