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DemoTex's Journal - Archives
Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Sun Oct 30th 2011, 11:44 PM
I'm in Meridian, MS., on my way home - thank goodness! What a long, long fire season it was! But here are my first entries into a number of photo contests:

#1: The Devil's Garden Fire

#2: Nick with Dust Trail

#3: Christmas Campfire

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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Sat Oct 15th 2011, 01:28 AM
Some of these are the best of the fire season. Please kick for the morning crew.

Thursday's Rx burn, at Dead Log Butte


The Dead Log fire this morning (HDR)

When - exactly - is fire season over?

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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Thu Oct 13th 2011, 11:28 PM
I had several photos to post, but Verizon sucks tonight. It took me 30 minutes to upload this one photo to the Flickr server. Maybe I'll get the others up tomorrow.

The fire season winds down. We are back to a "low danger" staffing level. I am in a two-week extension. My new "DEROS" is 10/22. I'm a'packin.

I had the Bend Bulletin newspaper out today doing a story on the lookout. The photographer was here for almost six hours. He was a GREAT liberal, so at least three of those hours were talking.

Two very serendipidous things happened while the news photog was out here. First, two women hiked up and asked permission to come up to the lookout. One had staffed the East Butte lookout in 1968, right after she had graduated from college! But that was the old lookout building (the current structure was erected in 1995). The Bulletin guy jumped on this as a core for his story.

The second thing was the light-off of a BIG prescribed burn about six miles south of the lookout. That gave a great fire/smoke backdrop for the photo-essay piece.

Nick plays in the dawn light
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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Sun Sep 11th 2011, 11:27 PM
Words fail me.

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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Sat Sep 10th 2011, 10:10 PM
We had a big lightning bust Thursday (9/8) afternoon. Thursday night, just
after it got totally dark, I spotted the open flames of a running fire
on a ridge to my southeast. I estimated it as 50-100 acres and
spreading like wildfire (Duh!). By 11 PM it was up to 500 acres. By
dawn it was 2000 acres, and growing. It is now a named fire: "The
Buffalo Wells Fire."

During the lightning bust on Thursday afternoon, I spotted a fire 15 miles south of my
lookout (in the Devil's Garden (lots of lava flow)). It was a very
small smoke, probably a single lightning-struck Juniper. It was
several miles south of the Deschutes NF, in Lakeview/BLM territory.
Since it is so desolate, Lakeview did not attack the fire. Long story
short, it blew up late Friday morning and ran like crazy. I watched the
fire go from a spot fire to 75 acres in 15 minutes. Thirty minutes
later, I estimated it at a quarter section (160 acres). It is now BIG (1300 acres).
It is a named fire: Devil's Garden Fire (that's a hell of a fire!).

The Devil's Garden fire had several big Convair twin-turboprop tankers
doing retardant drops all afternoon yesterday. I think the pilots must have
gotten the word that a former pilot is staffing the lookout tower that spotted
the fire. I got BUZZED a number of times!

Today (Saturday), the Devil's Garden fire ran again today. I am looking at a mile
long front of open flames and right now (8 PM PDT), with the fire moving toward the Deschutes
National Forest. I'm guessing that another 1000-1500 acres burned today. The
blow-up sent up a pyrocumulus cloud to about 25,000 feet!

Here are some photos. I've taken hundreds of photos today of
the Devil's Garden fire, so it will take me a while to go through
them. These include the only decent photo of the Buffalo Well Fire
Thursday night, and it ain't great (3-second exposure on a lookout tower
swaying in the wind).

A ConAir Convair tanker - silhouetted - dips its wing right over the lookout tower

Tanker 44 makes a last run to Devil's Garden just before sunset yesterday

A tanker puts down retardant on the Devil's Garden fire

Friday's pyrocumulus forms on the smoke column of Devil's Garden (Saturday's was
much bigger)

The Devil's Garden fire late yesterday afternoon (High Dynamic Range - HDR - B&W)

The Devil's Garden fire lays down for the night (Friday). It ain't doing that
tonight (Saturday)

Thursday night's view of the Buffalo Wells fire (3-sec exposure in a shakey lookout tower)
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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Thu Sep 08th 2011, 12:02 AM
The Shadow Lake fire, near Mount Washington in the Deschutes NF, blew up on Monday.
Yesterday (Tuesday) I was in Bend for my one day off in two weeks, and
I saw a steady stream of DC-4 and Convair tankers working on the
Shadow Lake fire. Shadow Lake was up to about 5500 acres early
Wednesday morning.

I was back at the lookout bright and early this morning. This
afternoon I spent six intense hours training a new relief lookout, in
the middle of a west-side lightning bust. There weren't many strikes,
but there were lots of fires. Our woods now carry the highest ERC
(energy release component) I've seen in three years: 74. The Haines
Index is 4, but could increase in the next day or two.

But, the good news is that I'm now back on a 5-on 2-off schedule.
Thank goodness!

The Three Sisters and Broken Top are to the left, and the smoke plume from the Shadow Lake fire is to the right.

Shadow Lake fire blow up (Monday 9/5/11)
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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Tue Sep 06th 2011, 12:04 AM
Wait, no! Necessity is the Mother of Invention - that's the ticket!
Remember my outside shower contraption? It is great on a wind-less,
warm day. But those days are few and far between on East Butte. What I
needed was an indoor shower - inside the heated lookout tower.

My good friend Katie - a fire-fighter on the Engine 634 crew and an
avid surfer - provided a valuable clue last week that helped me solve
my problem. Katie remarked that after a day in the surf, she and her
friends would use a make-shift shower while standing in a large
Rubber-maid container. Bingo! I had a large Rubber-maid container in the
lookout storage shed. The rest is in the photos (without me showering,
in case you were worried).

The color-rich photos are from late yesterday (Sunday 9/4). Small
cumulonimbi were putting down virga (rain that evaporates before it
gets to the ground), with a setting sun over the Newberry Caldera.

We had a small lightning bust this afternoon. Engine 634 staged at the
lookout and kept me company while we watched for lightning. We only
had three strikes on the east side (high desert side). One started a
fire that Engine 635 spotted from Fuzztail Butte and, within a couple
of hours, put in the "Contained & Controlled" column. But there were
many more strikes on the west side.

Tomorrow is my day off. It has been two weeks since my last real day
off (I am on 13-on 1-off schedule). I'll spend the day in physical therapy and acupuncture
treatment (big C5-6 C6-7 C7-8 neck problems). Some day I might

OK, here is the latest. Word is they are keeping us on an extra two
weeks, until October 22. The July-August drying/lightning cycle (with
high Haines & ERCs) is here now as a late August/September fire
weather problem (I'll tap dance around this one and just say, "What? A
change in the local climate?").


BTW: Tonight's spectacular photos of the Shadow Lake Fire blow-up will be posted, probably, Wednesday. When I have EVER described photos as "spectacular?"

The poncho will be replaced with sheet plastic this week

The advice in "The Graduate" should not have been "Plastics," it should have been "Rebar!"

Virga over the Volcano Rim

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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Sun Sep 04th 2011, 02:01 AM
The Shadow Lake Fire has close the PCT from OR-242 to the Santiam Pass. Avoid that stretch this weekend. And check for recreation area closures near the Sisters/Mt. Washington areas.

Meanwhile, 165,000+ acres burn in central Oregon with high spread potential this weekend. I'll link a useful wild-land fire tracking site below (InciWeb), before my pics. Click on your state in the pull-down in the upper right for wildfire info. /

New moon setting over the Crater Buttes on 8/31/11

Heavy frost on the morning of 9/1/11

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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Sun Sep 04th 2011, 01:41 AM
My two image entries were accepted for the Showcase "Shots-11" gallery show in Atlanta (only two entries were allowed). "Storm" and "Forest" won out on DU and other sites. They are also entered, with about 15 other images, in the Nature Conservancy photo contest.

Love 'ya DU!

"Deschutes Forest in Ground Fog at Dawn" (HDR)

"Storm Over Fort Rock Valley"


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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Wed Aug 31st 2011, 09:26 PM
Fog, I'm glad to see 'ya! It was so nice to wake up to sweet smelling air.

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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Tue Aug 30th 2011, 10:46 PM
Burning in central Oregon now:

Hancock Complex fires (Fossil): 53,000 acres

High Cascades Complex fires (Warm Springs): 61,841 acres (includes "Powerline," "West
Hills," "Razorback," and others)

Dead Dog fire: 2500 acres

Shadow Lake (Sisters): 300 acres

And others, including - perhaps - a fire at Derrick Cave to my
southeast (10 miles) that I can't see because of reduced visibility in drift
smoke. I had zero visibility due to drift smoke for much of the

Drift smoke from dawn 'till dusk:

Dawn: Smoke, not fog

An early morning inversion keeps the drift smoke low

View to the southeast (HDR photo) this morning.

Wild colors from the drift smoke at sunset
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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Mon Aug 29th 2011, 10:20 PM
Hancock Complex fire (Fossil): 45,000+ acres

High Cascades Complex fires (Warm Springs): includes the Razorback
fire which, alone, has burned 20,000+ acres

Dead Dog fire: 2500 acres

Shadow Lake fire (Sisters): 350 acres (with a good bud of mine there as Incident Commander)

These fires are generating a lot of smoke. The choking smoke moved in over me - again - about two hours ago.

Some photos from dawn and dusk today, Monday, 8/29:

Dawn on the butte

One of the most beautiful places on earth, and I get to live here five months a year

The lookout and my cowboy tipi

Lookout at dawn

Drift smoke thickens from the right at sunset today
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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Sun Aug 28th 2011, 11:18 PM
Drift smoke means color. We have the drift smoke! The Hancock Complex
fires are at 33,000 acres and today's Mt. Washington fire is at 500
acres (expected to grow to 1000-2000 acres by tomorrow). Fires in the
Sisters Wilderness (WiIlamette NF) and near Madras add to the smoke.

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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Sun Aug 28th 2011, 06:46 PM
The Hancock Fire near Fossil, Or., is now up to 33,000 acres (it was
17,000 yesterday). The drift smoke from Hancock is adversely affecting
our fire detection operations here (not to mention burning my eyes and irritating my throat).

U.S. Bureau of Land Management press-release photo of Hancock Fire
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Posted by DemoTex in General Discussion
Sat Aug 27th 2011, 11:45 PM
The Hancock Complex fire near Fossil, Or., was at 17,000 acres this morning. Another large fire is burning in the Sisters Wilderness (Willamette NF) west of Three Sisters.

More lightning tomorrow.

Alkali dust storms east of Christmas Valley indicated the instability of the atmosphere

This dust devil in the same area as the alkali dust was at least 3000 feet high

It is amazing how quickly these storms dissipate at sunset (sometimes!)

Reflections on a long, tiring day
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Vietnam 1970-71 (250 air combat missions) DU member since May, 2001 Retired airline captain (MD-80, Boeing 737) USFS Fire Lookout (2009, 2010, ..)
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