Friday, September 27, 2019

Arson suspect, Missouri man flies to California, sets 13 wildfires, then tries to fly home, cops say

Officials say Freddie Graham, 68, flew from Missouri to set a number of wildfires in California.
Freddie Graham, 68, arrested Monday

A Missouri man flew to California, spent two days setting wildfires, then tried to fly home, officials say. He was arrested Monday.

Freddie Graham, 68, hopped on a flight from Missouri to San Jose last Thursday, KPIX reported. After renting a car, he spent the next two days setting fires as he drove the “narrow, windy roads” between Ed Levin Park and the Calaveras Reservoir in the foothills near San Jose, Deputy District Attorney Bud Porter said.

Officials say Graham would light pieces of paper on fire and then toss them out of his window as he drove, The East Bay Times reported. He’s believed to have set at least 13 fires — four on Friday and nine on Saturday — which are collectively referred to as the Reservoir Fire, officials say.

It took hours for firefighters to put out Friday’s blazes, officials say, but Saturday’s proved even more tenacious, taking firefighters the rest of the weekend to extinguish them, The East Bay Times reported. The fire burned more than 128 acres, though no injuries or damaged structures were reported.

Officials were alerted to Graham’s alleged involvement when a witness noticed his rental car near the blazes and took note of the license plate, KPIX reported.

“But for that Good Samaritan coming forward with the license plate, this crime probably would never have been solved,” Porter said, according to The East Bay Times.

Graham was arrested Monday while trying to return his rental car at the San Jose airport, according to NBC Bay Area.

Graham is charged with a number of offenses including 13 felony counts of arson of brushland, as well as two charges related to committing arson during a state of emergency, NBC Bay Area reported.

If he’s convicted of all charges, Graham faces up to 22 years in prison, KPIX reported. His bail is set at $2 million and he’s scheduled to enter a plea on Sept. 30.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

CAL FIRE Announces Availability of Funding for Projects that Proactively Address Fire Prevention and Forest Health


Scott McLean
Deputy Chief of Communications
(916) 651-FIRE (3473)
September 26, 2019

CAL FIRE Announces Availability of Funding for Projects that Proactively Address Fire Prevention and Forest Health

Sacramento – The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) announced the availability of over $80 million for Forest Health and Fire Prevention projects. CAL FIRE is soliciting applications for projects that work to proactively prevent catastrophic wildfires and restore forests to healthy, functioning ecosystems while also sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

CAL FIRE’s Forest Health Grant Program seeks to significantly increase reforestation, fuels management, fire reintroduction, and treatment of degraded areas. An additional $7 million will be available through the Forest Legacy Program to conserve environmentally important forest land threatened with conversion to non-forest uses, and up to $2 million will be available specifically for applied research examining forest management and health.

CAL FIRE’s Fire Prevention Grant Program seeks to fund local projects that address the risk of wildfire and reduce wildfire potential to communities in, and adjacent to, forested areas. Qualified activities include hazardous fuel reduction, fire prevention planning and fire prevention education with an emphasis on improving public health and safety.
Find more information and sign up for announcements at

Official Call for Applications:

Fire Prevention Program: The call for applications opened on September 25, 2019 and will be due by 3:00 PM on December 4, 2019.

Forest Health Program: The call for applications will open on September 27 and will be due by 3:00 PM on December 6, 2019.

Public workshops will be held throughout California starting September 30; additional recorded webinars will be made available online.

These grant programs are part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment– particularly in disadvantaged communities.

These programs serve to complement the 35 priority fuels reduction and fire prevention projects that CAL FIRE has undertaken at the direction of Governor Gavin Newson. They also complement the State Forest Carbon Plan, which seeks to increase the ability of our forests to capture carbon and improve forest health.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sequoia National Forest: Wildland Fire #Schaeffer Fire west of Corral Meadow on the Kern Plateau. (Map) #Cafire #SQFfire

Sequoia National Forest, Forest Fire Name: Schaeffer Fire

Sequoia National Forest Schaeffer Fire Location Map
Location: Schaeffer Fire is located within the old McNally Fire scar, west of Corral Meadow on the Kern Plateau.
Suppression tactics include utilizing natural barriers and handlines in this heavy snag patch to minimize firefighter exposure.
Sequoia Nat'l Forest on Twitter
@sequoiaforest --- #Schaeffer Fire

Sequoia National Forest
Supervisors Office
1839 S. Newcomb
Porterville, CA 93257
(559) 784-1500
M-F 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m
Closed for lunch between 12:00 - 12:30 PM
TDD. 559.781.6650

Stanislaus National Forest plans prescribed burn: Moore-Bellfour Underburn Calaveras Ranger District

Stanislaus National Forest plans prescribed burn for resource and public benefit on Calaveras Ranger District

Moore-Bellfour Underburn project map.
This project is a planned prescribed burn. Please do not report as a wildfire.
SONORA, Calif. — The Stanislaus National Forest provides the following information about planned prescribed burns on the forest.
Prescribed Fire Name / Ranger District: Moore-Bellfour Underburn, Calaveras Ranger District
General and Specific Location: Project area is located along Forest Road 7N09 (Cabbage Patch Road) south of Salt Springs Reservoir.  Township 7 North, Range 16 East, Section 12 Smoke may be visible from Hwy. 4 and in the surrounding communities. Fire managers are working closely with local air districts and the California Air Resources Board to mitigate the effects of smoke on the public. View the project map.
This project is a planned prescribed burn. Please do not report as a wildfire.
Projected Duration: The prescribed burn may begin Sept. 12 and continue through fall as long as conditions allow.  Burning is contingent on weather, fuel moisture, and air quality.  All burning is monitored and conducted in accordance with state and county air quality guidelines and closely coordinated with local county air quality control districts  
Planned Size of Prescribed Burn: Project area includes between 300 and 800 acres. Burn units may be ignited in blocks throughout the fall. The size of these blocks will vary based on environmental conditions and smoke production.     
Type of Prescribed Burn: Underburn
Burn Project Objectives: Prescribed low-intensity fires enhance wildlife habitat, protect and maintain water quality and soil productivity, improve forest ecosystem health, and reduce the threat of uncontrolled conflagrations. The Sierra Nevada is a fire dependent ecosystem, where fire is a critical part of the natural forest process and helps to maintain resilient forests.
Public Benefits: Prescribed burning is an effective, cost efficient method of reducing the buildup of flammable forest fuels, both ground fuels and ladder fuels; reducing the threat of uncontrolled, large and damaging wildland fires and improving firefighting capabilities.
# # #

Thursday, September 12, 2019

NTSB: Marine Preliminary Report: California Boat(Conception) Fire, Santa Cruz Island

 Marine Preliminary Report: California Boat Fire, Santa Cruz Island
The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the September 2, 2019, marine accident involving the 75-foot commercial diving vessel Conception. The vessel was anchored in Platts Harbor off Santa Cruz Island, 21.5 nautical miles south-southwest of Santa Barbara, when it caught fire. Thirty-three passengers and one crewmember died.

Preliminary Report: Marine DCA19MM047

Executive Summary

The information in this preliminary report is subject to change and may contain errors. It will be supplemented or corrected during the course of the investigation.
Preaccident photo of Conception 
Pre Accident photo of Conception. (Source: Truth Aquatics)

On Monday, September 2, 2019, about 3:14 a.m. Pacific daylight time, US Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach received a distress call from the 75-foot commercial diving vessel Conception, with 39 persons on board. The Conception was owned and operated by Truth Aquatics, Inc., based in Santa Barbara, California. The Conception was classified by the Coast Guard as a small passenger vessel that took passengers on dive excursions in the waters around the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. The accident voyage was a three-day diving trip to the Channel Islands. On the last night of the voyage, the vessel was anchored in Platts Harbor off Santa Cruz Island, 21.5 nautical miles south-southwest of Santa Barbara, when it caught fire. Weather conditions were reported as slight to no winds with patchy fog, 2–3-foot seas, and air and water temperature about 65°F. The Conception was carrying 39 persons, 6 of which were crew. Thirty-three passengers and one crewmember died.
The wood and fiberglass vessel was built in 1981. The vessel had three levels: the uppermost sun deck, containing the wheelhouse and crew rooms; the main deck, which included the salon and galley; and the lower deck within the hull, which housed the passenger berthing (bunkroom) and shower room, as well as the engine room and tanks.
Initial interviews of three crewmembers revealed that no mechanical or electrical issues were reported. At the time of the fire, five crewmembers were asleep in berths behind the wheelhouse, and one crewmember was asleep in the bunkroom, which was accessed from the salon down a ladderwell in the forward, starboard corner of the compartment. The bunkroom had an emergency escape hatch located on the aft end, which also exited to the salon. There were two, locally-sounding smoke detectors in the overhead of the bunkroom.  
A crewmember sleeping in the wheelhouse berths was awakened by a noise and got up to investigate. He saw a fire at the aft end of the sun deck, rising up from the salon compartment below. The crewmember alerted the crew behind the wheelhouse. As crewmembers awoke, the captain radioed a distress message to the Coast Guard.
The crewmembers attempted to access the salon and passengers below. Unable to use the aft ladder, which was on fire, the crewmembers jumped down to the main deck (one crewmember broke his leg in the process) and tried to access the salon and galley compartment, which was fully engulfed by fire at the aft end and by thick smoke in the forward end, through a forward window. Unable to open the window and overwhelmed by smoke, the crew jumped overboard.
Two crewmembers and the captain swam to the stern, reboarded the vessel, opened the hatch to the engine room, and saw no fire. Access to the salon through the aft doors was blocked by fire, so they launched a small skiff and picked up the remaining two crewmembers in the water. They transferred to a recreational vessel anchored nearby (Grape Escape) where the captain continued to radio for help, while two crewmembers returned to the Conception to search for survivors around the burning hull. Local Coast Guard and fire departments arrived on scene to extinguish the fire and conduct search and rescue. The vessel burned to the waterline by morning and subsequently sank in about 60 feet of water.
 Later that day, the Coast Guard declared the accident a major marine casualty. The NTSB was named as the lead federal agency for the safety investigation and launched a full team to Santa Barbara, arriving on scene the following morning. The Coast Guard, Truth Aquatics, Inc., Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, and Santa Barbara County Fire Department were named as parties to the NTSB investigation.
Investigators have collected documents from recent Coast Guard inspections and visited another Truth Aquatics vessel, Vision, a vessel similar to the Conception. Salvage operations to bring the wreckage to the surface for examination and documentation have begun. Investigators plan to examine current regulations regarding vessels of this type, year of build, and operation; early-warning and smoke-detection and alarm systems; evacuation routes; training; and current company policies and procedures. Efforts continue to determine the source of the fire.

Probable Cause

​​The information in this preliminary report is subject to change and may contain errors. It will be supplemented or corrected during the course of the investigation.

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer." --Abraham Lincoln

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