La Grande Smoke Intrusion Fall 2006 Review Process Lessons Learned

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Wildfire Alternative

Transcript of La Grande Smoke Intrusion Fall 2006 Review Process Lessons Learned

La Grande Smoke Intrusion Fall 2006 Review Process Lessons Learned Prescribed Fire Alternative Wildfire Alternative Communities and WUI Wildfire vs Rx Fire Intrusion Summary Intrusion Report for September 26-28, hours of moderate intrusion 19 hours heavy intrusion Maximum nephelometer reading for PM2.5 of at 0300 on 9/27 NAAQS 24-hr PM2.5 Standard 65g/m3, 98 th percentile, 3 years (new standard 35g/m3, effective November 21, 2006) Intrusion Summary Bscat24-hr ave PM2.5; FF 24-hr ave PM2.5; WS 9/ / / / / Intrusion Summary DEQ findings using ODF methodology for the period 9/25 10/3 34 light intrusion hours 66 moderate intrusion hours 25 heavy intrusion hours Review Process Fact-finding Team Bill Aney, Umatilla NF Fire and Aviation Staff Officer, Team Leader Tim Rich, SORO Fuels Specialist Larry Calkins, Oregon DEQ Bob Johnson, ODF Noel Livingston, Burnt Powder FMO, Wallowa-Whitman NF Review Process After Action Review Team Matt Reidy, WWNF Fire and Aviation Staff Officer, Team Leader Tim Rich, SORO Fuels Specialist Ken Rockwell, WWNF AFMO - Fuels Dennis Winkler, WWNF AFMO - Operations Nick Lunde, WFZ FMO, WWNF Kat Naughton, BPFZ AFMO, WWNF Jay Rasmussen, GRFZ AFMO, WWNF Mike Johnson, GRFZ Fuels, WWNF Overview Hazardous fuel reduction project areas 9 and 15 miles west of La Grande; 2000 ac 6500 tons, 1500 ac tons. 2-day helicopter PSD operation. La Grande is a protected area identified in the NE Oregon MOU (Appendix 5 of the Oregon SMP Operational Guidelines, 1995); currently an air quality maintenance area identified by Oregon DEQ. Interstate 84 runs just east of the 2000 ac unit. Chronology Thursday 9/21- WWNF contacts SORO and ODF notifying them of plans to begin Rx burning as early as Sunday 9/24, and requesting resumption of smoke forecast / instructions. Sunday 9/24, GRFZ makes final preparations and determines fuels are within prescription parameters from burn plan. Chronology Monday morning 9/25, ODF written forecast / instructions not available. GRFZ contacts ODF forecaster; miscommunication results. GRFZ initiates burn late morning. Problems with PSD machine and helicopter result in fewer acres burned than planned (750 of 1500 2000). Daytime smoke disperses away from La Grande. Chronology Tuesday 9/26 ODF written smoke forecast from Monday afternoon identified unfavorable burning conditions, worsening through the remainder of the week; instructs no burning within 15 miles of protected areas (La Grande). GRFZ determines units are unsafe to leave as is, and resumes burning with the objective of securing the units. Approximately 2200 ac burned. At 1700, wind shifts toward La Grande. Chronology Wednesday 9/27 Heavy intrusion. ODF contacted. GRFZ discontinues burning. WWNF alerts Umatilla NF, SORO, ODF. Intrusion persists. Fuels within units continue to burn. No suppression actions taken. Findings and Recommendations DRAFT Transition to Rx Burn Season; Smoke Forecasts There was an abrupt transition from a hard fire season to Rx burn season with no clear definitive season-ending event. ODF forecasters need to be given adequate lead time when resumption of Rx burning is planned. SORO will work with ODF to establish timelines and protocols for resuming spring and fall smoke forecasts and instructions. Forest will pause, regroup, and complete a readiness review prior to implementing Rx burn operations; both spring and fall. Miscommunication with ODF. It was not clear to them that a written forecast was needed on Sunday for a large multi-day Rx burn Monday morning. Forest will communicate well in advance with ODF and SORO that Rx burning will be resuming so that a written forecast and burning instructions can be produced prior to the initiation of operations. Miscommunication with ODF on burn description and verbal forecast/instructions on Monday Obtain a written general forecast prior to burning. Follow the instructions. Obtain a special forecast if burning over 2000 tons, or the burn will extend over a considerable timeperiod, or the burn boss believes the site specific conditions are an exception to the general forecast. Provide burn location (including proximity to protected or smoke sensitive areas), size, number of planned burn days, acres and tons per day, diurnal flow and smoldering potential. Ensure planned burn and instructions are mutually understood. Some ODF general instructions are unsuited for Rx burning; e.g. For units that will smolder into the evening, avoid burning within at least 35 miles in all directions of protected areas. Recommend against burning units that will smolder overnight. Special forecast/instruction almost always required. This is not necessarily a problem, but could result in considerable time required for forecasters to provide timely instructions for specific burns. SORO will work with ODF to look at options for instructions associated with general forecasts. Next-day forecast and instructions not considered until the next day. Next-day forecast and instructions shall be obtained (2 p.m.), analyzed, and used by the Burn Boss to fine-tune or adjust current day burning operations, as well as used for planning the next day(s). Multi-day burns can increase the risk of smoke problems due to the greater uncertainty in the long-range forecast. SORO will work with ODF on the wording in the smoke management instructions; consider changing burns requiring a special forecast from burns extending over a considerable period to all multi-day burns. Forest will require burn bosses to acquire a special forecast / instructions for all multi-day burns. Reporting Data entered into FASTRACS was not available to ODF forecasters to identify planned burns, to report emissions, and to help quantify potential cumulative smoke production. Forest will provide annual or bi-annual (pre season) training/review of FASTRACS data input and reporting requirements, process, and timelines. SORO will work with ODF to review/revise data input and transfer process to improve ease of use, reliability, timing, and functionality. Web-based SmokeTRACS? Operations Burn plan did not identify contingency lighting, holding, or mop-up strategies that could be employed should conditions change requiring limiting smoke production. Burn Plans need to contain such contingency and mitigation plans, especially when working near protected areas or other communities. Large burn units should be designed with flexibility so they can be implemented in smaller parts if necessary; using natural barriers, roads, skid trails, constructed fire lines, etc. and correspondingly appropriate lighting plans. Helicopter and PSD malfunctions were not anticipated and contributed to sequence of events that resulted in the intrusion. Have a back-up bench-tested PSD available. Develop a hand-lighting option in the burn plan and implement that plan if the helicopter malfunctions. Do not count on the helicopter and PSD to work flawlessly in order for the project to be successful. Have a malfunction contingency plan. There was a large amount of unburned area within the burn units without a secure perimeter, resulting in the GRFZ having to assess tough choices and make hard decisions on Tuesday and Wednesday. The contingency planning and implementation procedures identified previously would have minimized or eliminated this problem. There is not a clear understanding of the Oregon Smoke Management Plan and Implementation Guidelines, or FSM 5140, at all levels of the organization. Neither is there a full understanding of the weight these carry in decision-making. WWNF will re-emphasize with FLT and fuels management personnel the legal requirement of complying with the Clean Air Act and the SIPs and SMPs. This compliance takes precedence over target accomplishment. Forests must find ways to do both. Forest will provide training on current version of FSM 5140 and the new Rx Fire Implementation Guidelines. The values used in the Complexity Analysis resulted in a moderate rating, despite proximity to La Grande and I-84, and the aerial ignition. WWNF will work with those who prepare, review, and approve Rx Fire Plans to make sure they are aware of the appropriate values to assign when doing a complexity analysis; and consequently who then, based on the rating, has the authority and qualifications and to approve and implement the plan. Clear direction will be emphasized in the FMP. Fire Behavior Smoldering of stumps and other large fuels is likely in the fall (and sometimes in the spring) and will continue until the fuel is consumed. SORO and ODF will work together to provide guidelines on how to address overnight or multi- day smoldering. WWNF burn plans will assess interaction of the desired fuel reduction objectives with the potential for smoke production due to smoldering, and provide a burn Rx that balances both best. WWNF will continue to maximize utilization of biomass in order to minimize fuel consumption and smoke production. New PM2.5 NAAQS