CannonTour - The Armies of Summer (Wildland Firefighting) Pt 1/3

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    We have some designated wilderness areas that have special rules for what activities can happen there. Engines are generally prohibited in those designated areas. I believe there are some exceptions when it comes to preserving life and the like. So even firefighters have to operate without engines unless authorized by an exception.

    Other forested areas can be considered as areas of wilderness, but unless they are formally designated as such, the wilderness act rules don't apply.

    https://durangoherald.com/articles/278111
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  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 17 440 miles

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    First segment. Heading toward Oakbridge.
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    Heading out.
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    Mount Washington
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    Must be part of the Three Sisters
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    Sisters (named after the mountains).
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    McKenzie Pass Scenic Byway
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    This forest has been thinned.
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    The roads gets pretty tight ahead.
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    Fire damage.
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    Pretty impressive expanses of lava.
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    Dee Wright Observatory.
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    This is along an old 1860 wagon road. The lava field here is 65 square miles. The CCC built this observatory in 1935.
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    We join the West Cascades Scenic Byway.
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  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 17 Continued

    Heading to Oakridge

    McKenzie River Covered Bridge
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    519' tall rockfill Cougar Dam
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    They had problems with fish migration here. They gave up on a fish passage. Now they have a collection and sorting facility that allows them to move fish by truck. Another problem they had was water temperature messing up the fish population downstream. The solution to that problem (water too hot or too cold) is a tower that can take in water from different depths/temperatures depending on the time of the year.
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    The Office Bridge at Willamette was originally built for logging trucks to access a timber outfit. That place burned. Eventually a tax foreclosure transferred the bridge to the county.
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    Pretty stout. Willamette had a couple of years of typhoid fever outbreaks in the early 1900s. In 1912 someone sued the town about paying taxes claiming that the town was never properly incorporated. It wasn't . . . but they fixed it.
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    Willamette Fish Hatchery
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  4. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    Interesting - thanks
  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 17 Continued

    Heading toward Crater Lake

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    Hills Creek Dam. 300' high earthen dam. Flood control and hydro power.
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    Just what the doctor ordered.
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    Heading into Crater Lake from the north.
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    Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway
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    Crater Lake is 1,948' deep - the deepest lake in the US. No inflow or outflow. Evaporation is replaced by snow and rain which replaces the total volume of water about every 250 years.
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    It was formed about 7,700 years ago when a volcano collapsed.
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    The lake is 5 miles by 6 miles across.
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    Wizard Island is a cinder cone and is about 316 acres in size.
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  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 17 Continued

    Japanese Balloon Bombs and Forest Fires

    In May of 1945, a pregnant woman and five children were killed by a Japanese balloon bomb while on a picnic in the forest in this region.

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    There is a monument at the site of the blast. I visited a memorial in the cemetery at Klamath Falls.
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    Japan launched hydrogen balloons with incendiary and explosive weapons on them during WWII. Actually, this was the first ever weapon with intercontinental range. These were the longest range attacks launched up until the Falkland Islands War.

    The idea was to cause terror and to start forest fires.

    9,300 balloons were launched. 300 were observed in the US. Only six deaths were caused.

    Balloons were found in Alaska, Arizona, British Columbia, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mexico, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Yukon Territory.

    A press blackout on the topic kept the Japanese from knowing that their balloons were getting here. Thinking their plan wasn't working, they gave up balloon launches after a while.
    The Japanese did have it figured out. With the jet stream they could get a balloon here from Japan in about 3 days. They figured about 10% would reach the US which turned out to be about right.

    An Army fighter plane managed to push one of the balloons around in the air and got it to land intact where it was examined.

    Japanese propaganda announced great fires and thousands of casualties in the US.

    The Japanese were also working on delivering biological weapons, like anthrax, via these balloons.

    For a while some suspected the balloons were launched off-shore by submarines. Some even suspected they came from internment camps in the US. People found it hard to believe they came from Japan. Eventually they found a ballast bag that contained material that allowed scientists to trace the origin of the balloons to Japan. Bombers knocked off two hydrogen plants there as a result.

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    The US government figured that the greatest threat posed by these bombs would be wildfires in the Pacific coastal forests. To combat this, the Army sent 2,700 troops to that region and stationed them in critical areas to respond to fires. These troops included 200 paratroopers from the 555th PIR (Triple Nickles) and a variety of aircraft. To cover what the Army was doing, the US Forest Service became the proxy agency. Some conscientious objectors were also used in a firefighting role. The 555th was an all black paratrooper unit. The 555th worked 28 fires during 1945 - 15 of which they parachuted into.

    It is interesting to note that the use of military units, tactics, and equipment helped shape how the USFS approached firefighting after the war.

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    Worth a listen: https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/war-our-shore
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  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 17 Continued

    Klamath Falls Part I

    Ernie Brace is from Klamath Falls. He was a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot that earned the Distinguished Flying Cross in Korea. He tried faking his own death in 1961 and got busted out of the Corps for it. He later started flying as a contract pilot for certain agencies in southeast Asia. He got shot down and became the longest serving (nearly 8 years) civilian prisoner of war in Viet Nam. Ernie had some terrible treatment as a POW. He managed to escape along the way but was recaptured. Later he ended up in a cell next to John McCain. Since he was a civilian, he wasn't listed as a prisoner so his wife assumed he was dead and remarried which Ernie learned about in the processing center. He met a nurse from Klamath Falls, married her, and moved there. As a prisoner, Brace kept the code even though he was a civilian. He was later pardoned by the President largely because of his behavior as a captive. The reason I mention this is that some of the contract pilots have probably had some "interesting" contracts and they might enjoy reading Ernie's book A Code to Keep. It is pretty good.

    Klamath Falls Airtanker Base
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    There is an Air Guard unit at the airport. The airport has the second longest runway in Oregon at about 10,300'. The place was listed as an alternate landing spot for the Space Shuttle.
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    There is a nice memorial and aircraft viewing site at the tanker base.
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    It commemorates a DC-7 tanker (that was based here) that crashed nearby while fighting a fire.
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    This aircraft is used as an overhead command and control station when working a fire.
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    Retardant station.
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    Retired P2V Neptune (Navy plane turned tanker).
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    The plane that crashed.
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  8. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 17 Continued

    Klamath Falls Part II

    Some tanker aircraft past and present.

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    Some fancy flying with terrain.
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    P-3 Orion
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    I should have stopped and plugged in my cell phone.
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    I mentioned the Les Schwab distribution center in Prineville. Les has over 400 tire stores in the region. No motorcycle tires though.
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  9. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 17 Continued

    Merrill and Tulelake

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    Merrill is a small town that was home to Disney cartoonist Carl Banks. Banks was responsible for a lot of Donald Duck stories and characters. Banks bounced around many jobs in his early life with little success (farmer, woodcutter, turner, mule driver, cowboy and printer). From his experiences he saw how eccentric, stubborn, and unpredictable men/machines/animals can be and he applied that to his stories.
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    This part of the relocation center was for hard cases that objected to being in a Japanese relocation center. It was more like a jail.
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    They have some articles from the camp on display.
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    The main camp was along the highway.
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    Wiki says "A notable inmate was Frank Tanabe, who volunteered to serve in a mostly Japanese-American military unit, interrogating Japanese prisoners in India and China. When asked why he served in the same army that imprisoned him, Tanabe replied, "I wanted to do my part to prove that I was not an enemy alien, or that none of us were — that we were true Americans. And if we ever got the chance, we would do our best to serve our country. And we did."

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    Tule Lake had the highest proportion of disloyals of all the relocation centers. This led to a decision to consolidate all of the disloyals at Tule Lake and to change Tule Lake WRC into a maximum security segregation facility.

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    Like many camps, most of it is gone. Buildings were dismantled, remodeled, or burned. Not much is distinguishable from the camp.
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    Actor George Takei was imprisoned in the camp as a child.

    It was interesting that about 800 German POWs were allowed to work in the region and the Japanese were not.

    One small section of the former camp has some modern houses in it. The fenced area appears to be housing for farm and migrant workers.
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    I swung through the airport.
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  10. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 17 To end of day in Alturas.

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    Petroglyphs behind the fence.
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    This outfit produces enzymes and biochemicals.
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    A big sump here makes up a nice wildlife refuge.
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    Captain Jack's Stronghold. Tunnels in the lava made it easy to defend. Interesting story.
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    Active fire lookout up there.
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    The Frog Fire burned in this area back in 2015. An engine operator from the Black Hills was burned over and killed. His shelter was not deployed. You can read an overview that indicates how confusing things can be and how fast a fire can develop.
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    Inspection station near the California border.
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    Canby is named for General Canby who was cut down at the peace talks covered earlier. The town is the home of the main branch of the I'SOT (In Search of Truth) religious community.
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    There is also an interagency wildland fire facility here.
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    It looked like the hotshots were deployed.
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    I had planned to go to Cedarville to look around but ended up overnighting in Alturas (which I'll cover later). Cedarville is where Medal of Honor recipient SSG Clinton Romesha went to school.

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    "On 3rd October 2009, according to a report published by U.S. Army historian Richard S. Lowry, Taliban fighters launched a coordinated attack on the outpost from three sides at about 06:00, capturing its ammunition depot. Some 300 fighters participated in the attack armed with a recoilless rifle, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, machine guns, and small arms, badly outnumbering the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) presence of about 85 U.S. Army, Afghan National Army and Latvian Army soldiers, and the 35 Afghan soldiers who abandoned their positions. It would later be known as the Battle of Kamdesh.

    During the first three hours of the fight, the U.S. troops remained under intense mortar and small arms fire, before the Taliban fighters breached the compound and set fire to it. Romesha moved under heavy fire to reconnoiter the area and seek reinforcements from a nearby barracks, helping the ISAF troops to regroup and fight despite being targeted by a Taliban sniper. Romesha led the firefight to reclaim the depot, organizing a five-man team to counterattack while still under fire. He then neutralized one of the Taliban fighters' machine gun teams. While engaging a second, he took cover behind a generator which was struck by a rocket propelled grenade, and Romesha was wounded in the neck, shoulder and arms by shrapnel. Despite being wounded, Romesha directed air support that killed an estimated 30 Taliban and then took out several more Taliban positions himself. He provided suppressing fire to allow three other wounded American soldiers to reach an aid station and then recovered several American casualties while still under fire. Romesha's efforts allowed the troops to regroup and fight off a force superior in numbers. The fight lasted 12 hours, and eight American soldiers were killed, making the engagement one of the costliest for ISAF during the war. Nine soldiers were decorated with Silver Star Medals for the fight. Several days later, ISAF withdrew from the post."

    His citation:

    Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Section Leader with Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during combat operations against an armed enemy at Combat Outpost Keating, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on October 3, 2009. On that morning, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his comrades awakened to an attack by an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground on all four sides of the complex, employing concentrated fire from recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars and small arms fire. Staff Sergeant Romesha moved uncovered under intense enemy fire to conduct a reconnaissance of the battlefield and seek reinforcements from the barracks before returning to action with the support of an assistant gunner. Staff Sergeant Romesha took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds. Undeterred by his injuries, Staff Sergeant Romesha continued to fight and upon the arrival of another soldier to aid him and the assistant gunner, he again rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers. Staff Sergeant Romesha then mobilized a five-man team and returned to the fight equipped with a sniper rifle. With complete disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire, as he moved confidently about the battlefield engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter. While orchestrating a successful plan to secure and reinforce key points of the battlefield, Staff Sergeant Romesha maintained radio communication with the tactical operations center. As the enemy forces attacked with even greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds, Staff Sergeant Romesha identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy over 30 enemy fighters. After receiving reports that seriously injured Soldiers were at a distant battle position, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his team provided covering fire to allow the injured Soldiers to safely reach the aid station. Upon receipt of orders to proceed to the next objective, his team pushed forward 100 meters under overwhelming enemy fire to recover and prevent the enemy fighters from taking the bodies of their fallen comrades. Staff Sergeant Romesha’s heroic actions throughout the day-long battle were critical in suppressing an enemy that had far greater numbers. His extraordinary efforts gave Bravo Troop the opportunity to regroup, reorganize and prepare for the counterattack that allowed the Troop to account for its personnel and secure Combat Outpost Keating. Staff Sergeant Romesha’s discipline and extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty reflect great credit upon himself, Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and the United States Army.

    End of day 17.
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  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 18 Heading to Elko 441 miles

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    Heading to the Lakeview Air Attack Station

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    Alturas had some great looking buildings. When they were lit up last night they looked great.
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    One of those balloon bombs was shot down about 30 miles west of town back in January 1945.

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    Heading toward Lakeview.
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    Goose Lake is a large alkaline lake that straddles the state line here. It is part of a mostly closed drainage basin.
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    Air attack base at Lakeview. Helitack unit and an aerial tanker. Because of the varying "ownership" of public lands, this an an interagency set-up around here.
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    Packed and ready to go. Looked like the rest of the crew was deployed.
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    Like other helitack crews, they have trucks that can bring assets closer to the fire.
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    Contractor fuel truck can also deploy closer to the scene of the fire to make refueling more convenient.
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    Basic retardant facility. This one does not have a tank to use to offload retardant from a previously loaded aircraft.
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    Single engine air tanker (SEAT)
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    This tanker got a mission so they loaded it with retardant. Then the mission was cancelled. It isn't good to keep the load on the plane so if they didn't get another mission soon, they'd have to fly it to a designated drop area to empty the tank. The tank is right in front of the pilot and over the wing.
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    Looks like tanks of retardant can be moved to an airstrip closer to a fire if the need arises.
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  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 18 Continued

    Lakeview Interagency Fire Center

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    Inside a coordination center. This interagency center coordinates assets from multiple agencies.
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    This outfit has a large area of responsibility.
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    They've got the game on . . . on a big screen monitor.
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    This program allows people to see what aircraft are currently flying fire. Looks like a quiet morning.
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    They tailor their initial attack packages based on certain criteria. There are more considerations than just the standard one. For example, if the BLM invested heavily in restoring habitat for an important species, more assets would be dispatched to help protect that investment and habitat if it was threatened by fire.
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    Most of the engines have tracking devices on them so coordinators can see where they are. Engines have patrol areas. If a lightning storm comes through, coordinators may start to weight an area with more engines. Engines don't respond to lightning, but they do respond to smoke after a strike.
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    Assets belong to various agencies and they are centrally managed to meet requirements. There is also an agreement with some rancher associations where ranches provide some initial attack with government furnished hand-me-down firefighting equipment. There are terms as to how the program must work. Since ranchers are already hauling water in big tanker trucks to fill their cattle dugouts or tanks, they are able to show up at a fire with badly needed water. Sometimes they are first on the scene. I can see where ranchers would be very willing to be part of a program that helps protect their assets.
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    I went to look at an engine crew. The crews were out climbing some steep elevation as part of their physical fitness training and they had the engines with them so they could quickly respond. This smaller engine was in the shed.
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    Fire cache. Equipment is store here to outfit additional fire crews that are required in the area.
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  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 18 Lakeview Interagency Continued

    I went over to look at a Fish & Wildlife Service engine on this interagency compound.
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    I wondered what it cost to buy the truck and equip it. Of course, when you need it the cost seems pretty reasonable whatever it is. :D
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    The crew keeps their personal gear on the truck in the event they are dispatched directly to a deployment without returning to base. They could be out 2 weeks at a time fighting a fire.
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    Along the way I talked to a lot of wildland firefighters about their jobs and career path. I also met some civilians that said they worked as wildland firefighters to work their way through college. Many of these firefighters are seasonal employees. The structure is that many are in basic jobs that are in the lower pay grades. There isn't really a firefighter classification until you get into the higher grades where there are positions like fire management officers and the like. Many firefighters are classified as some kind of forestry technician - including some smoke jumpers. When not fighting fires they could be tasked to perform other work like keeping trails open, thinning forests, and other like work. I asked about hazardous duty pay. For the actual days that someone parachutes, rappels on a fire (works under rotors), or fights a wildfire (not a controlled burn) I think there is a 25% increase in pay. Once someone works their way into the system permanently and gets into the fire track there is a more favorable retirement system like you see for some protective service occupations. One station I was at had a bunch of contractors and seasonal employees but only a single year-around employee. I understand that there are provisions to get insurance while employed even seasonally. Obviously this is only a thumbnail sketch of some of the personnel matters. If you are interested in this kind of work, best to talk to the authorities that actually manage federal employment in these programs. I think there are opportunities to move around from agency to agency in this area of interest as people pursue promotions of different assignments or stations.

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    There is always some discussion about electronic versus mechanical controls for the pumps and valves. If the electronics go, you may be cooked. With mechanical it seems like you can get things to work somehow.
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    Engine or not, hand tools are part of the program. These guys might have to hike in to cut a line. They might also work out a hose lay that can be supported by multiple engines.
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    Packs they wear when fighting fires. These also have the fire shelter they can use if threatened with being burned over.
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    I have a feeling this is a rough ride - in the back anyway.
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    It looks like the front seats might have some fancy suspension.
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    All the folks I met at this station were great professionals and proud of what they do.

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  14. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 18 Continued

    Heading east toward the Rock Creek fire.

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    Speaking of smoke inhalation . . . not something we see (yet) in Wisconsin.
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    This ranch must do pretty well. Nice metalwork sculpture at the gate.
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    There isn't much of anything at all along this highway.
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    More chip seal to deal with.
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    Climbing to higher ground.
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    More emptiness. Not much traffic either.
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    Stopped at a restaurant/bar/gas stop at a highway intersection. Apparently the guy likes artillery. Met a fellow that asked what I was doing. He told me we worked as a wildland firefighter for 7 year and spoke fondly of it. Also spoke of some hard work. Paused here for a conference call for some advocate stuff I do for motorized recreation. The internet was down here and the owner told me it was likely down in Winnemucca too. There was a cell signal here though.
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    Heading north to the site of the Rock Creek fire.
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  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Oddometer:
    33,307
    Location:
    SE Wisconsin
    Day 18 Continued

    Rock Creek Fire and Winnemucca

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    In July of 1939 a CCC firefighting crew was working a fire in steep and rugged terrain.
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    Five men were killed by the fire.
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    As they approached the fire, a sudden violent shift of the winds caused an extreme downhill run of the fire. Within minutes the fire overtook the fleeing firefighters and killed them.
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    This was the first recorded firefighting fatality in a sagebrush fuel type. Lessons learned from this fatal fire contributed to the first formal tactical training for fire crews. It also highlighted the need for physical fitness. The need for a fire qualification and experience system was recommended as a result of this fire incident.
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    South to Winnemucca.
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    The Winnemucca Sand Dunes span an area of about 40 miles.
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    Winnemucca. There were a lot of points of interest there. Some have been overtaken by development. I toured where Chinatown had been and the Red Light District but didn't see anything remarkable there. A guy that later became the Chinese president visited Chinatown here when he was on a fundraising tour for a revolution back home.
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    Winnemucca was on the first transcontinental railroad. Now it enjoys Amtrak service.
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    A lot of residents are involved with gold mining or companies that support gold mining operations. Winnemucca is featured in the song "I've Been Everywhere".
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    The town wants people to believe that Butch Cassidy robbed a bank (I think this building) of $32,640. I wrote about it in my Idaho report.
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    Art Deco fire station.
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    Keeping the interior cool and clean (no dust).
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    chudzikb, rjnutt, MYUMPH and 2 others like this.
  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    33,307
    Location:
    SE Wisconsin
    Day 18 Continued

    On to Elko and end of day.

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    The Golconda School was built in 1888.
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    I was going to visit the Galena ghost town but took a pass on it. You can read about it here. Watch out for that big rattler that the guy met there.
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    Galena is back in those mountains.
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    You can take a tour of a gold mine here. They take you on a bus from this office.
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    Battle Mountain would be in bad shape without this mine. The county of 6,000 residents has received taxes of between $20M and $60M each year from the mine. If the mine goes away, a lot goes with it.
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    Mine employees average about $90K per year. They park in lots and are bussed to the mine.
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    Battle Mountain itself was once named "The Armpit of America" in a Washington Post article. It was named so because of its “lack of character and charm, its pathetic assemblage of ghastly buildings and nasty people and being "in the midst of harsh and uninviting wilderness.”

    The town didn't seem to mind. For a while they got Old Spice deodorant to help sponsor an annual Festival in the Pit. That has since been replaced with a bluegrass festival.

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    James Ledlie is from here. He was a civil engineer for railroads and a general in the Union army during the civil war. After the Union dug a 511' long tunnel under the enemy positions and blew up four tons of gunpowder (killing between 250 and 350 confederate troops), Ledlie messed it up leading to about 5,300 Union casualties without achieving any of the objectives.

    The Army installed an emergency airstrip here back in 1942. It became the Battle Mountain airport. The airport now hosts a BLM air attack base. Nevada has some forestry assets here as well.
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    Here is a video from inside one of those command and control airplanes. This video is from Battle Mountain. You can see a retardant drop in the video.


    This old flying boxcar is on the grounds. Not sure if it was a fire plane or not.
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    The airport site also has a motocross track and a raceway.
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    The Carlin Tunnels. There are four bores here: two railroad and two highway. The first railroad tunnel went in here in 1903. The passenger train City of San Francisco derailed near here in 1939 killing 24 and injuring 121 people. The event was ruled as sabotage but was never solved.
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    Elko was on an immigrant trail. It came into being with the railroad. The post office asked Elko to build a landing field to support an air mail route. There are some large concrete arrows around that were part of the navaids for the airmail pilots. There was a Pony Express station near here that is on display in town. Lots of casinos here.
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  17. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,030
    Was the civil war battle of which you reference the battle of the crater? Great concept, horrible execution.
  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    33,307
    Location:
    SE Wisconsin
    Battle of the Crater
  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    33,307
    Location:
    SE Wisconsin
    Day 19 Heading toward Promontory 452 miles

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    First Segment: Heading to Bonneville

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    Wells has a population of around 1,300. It started up along the trail to California and later became a railroad town. The town burned once. A magnitude 6 earthquake hit nearby in 2008. Wells was close to the epicenter and suffered a lot of damage. The quake started 9 km underground and 12 miles away.

    They filmed a critical scene for the movie Joy Ride at the Lone Star Motel here.
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    The town has two legal brothels.

    Bella's Gentlemen's Club (It looked like a family restaurant to me. :dunno)

    (according to Wiki)
    The ranch opened in 1950 as the Hacienda Ranch and is located just off Interstate 80. The rooms have different themes, and there is a jacuzzi and a BDSM dungeon. It has been owned and run since 1981 by Bella Shauna Cummins. In 2004, the ranch was temporarily closed by the local sheriff's office for irregularities in medical certification of the prostitutes. The owners of Bella's, Shauna and Lance Cummins, subsequently sued Elko County Sheriff Dale Lotspeich for allegedly acting outside the law in closing the establishment. Their action against the sheriff was unsuccessful.
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    Donna's Ranch (Previously owned by boxer Jack Dempsey.)

    According to Wiki:

    The ranch was originally established near the railroad to serve the men constructing the nearby railroad. Wells was a major cattle pick-up point on the Central Pacific Railway, cowboys who had driven the cattle to the railroad celebrated in the ranch. Local ranchers would give a few cattle to Donna's for credit against future visits.

    During the Great Depression, the ranch donated food and money to the people of Wells.

    It has undergone several name changes and has been previously known as The Calico Club, Donna's Calico Club, and Chardon's Club.

    Arnold purchased the ranch from Evelyn and Ken Merrill in 1999 for $1,000,000.

    On February 21, 2008, the ranch survived a 6.0 earthquake, however the interior of the building was trashed. The building was also extensively damaged in a flood on February 7, 2017.

    They operated two locations, however the one in Battle Mountain, Nevada in Lander County, closed in 2011. It was subsequently re-opened by new owners under its previous name of The Calico Club.

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    These places truly were located on the wrong side of the tracks.
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    A few more of those wildlife crossings.
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    This is Pilot Peak which served as a navaid for early settlers heading west.
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    Coming up on the state line, Wendover, and salt flats.
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    Part of the former Wendover air base is in the foreground. We'll visit that in a bit.
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  20. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    33,307
    Location:
    SE Wisconsin
    Day 19 Continued

    Wendover

    West Wendover started up in the 40s and 50s with legalized gambling in Nevada. They got a few casinos along the way and then incorporated in 1991. Time zone issues led the US Department of Transportation to move West Wendover into the Mountain Time Zone since it is connected to Wendover, UT. West Wendover is the only portion of Nevada legally in the Mountain Time Zone although some other communities like Jarbidge unofficially operate as such. There was once an initiative to annex Wendover UT into Nevada but it died along the way.

    Wendover Will is a 63 foot tall sign that was built to draw travelers to a casino. The sign has 1,184 feet of neon tubing. When the casino changed ownership the sign was donated to the city. The city spent $200K to restore the sign and moved it to the town center.

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    Memorial bout the B-29 and atomic bombs. The Enola Gay operated out of Wendover.
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    The final pole for the transcontinental telephone line was raised in Wendover in 1914 after 3,400 miles of telephone line was constructed.
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    This airplane was used in the move Con Air.
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    Retired DC-6 that was converted to an aerial tanker for firefighting.
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    Movies filmed at Wendover airfield.

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    The bomb loading pit was used to load an atomic bomb into the B-29. Because of the size of the bomb it had to be put into a pit and then have the airplane rolled over the pit to load.
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    Officer's Club
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    The hangar the Enola Gay was kept in. The Enola Gay was stationed here until June 1945. The bomb was dropped that August.
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    WWII barracks/buildings.
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    Backstop for testing aircraft machineguns.
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    The Air Force still has a small presence here.
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    staticPort and chudzikb like this.