Frequent Spot Fires Across The Line

Category: 
Weather - Fire Behavior
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Sep 2020
16. Getting frequent spot fires across line. In tall, thick timber, a fire is actively burning on the left side of the road. On the right side, firefighters are spraying water and digging with tools on spot fires. Behind them, a green fire engine is driving on the road.

16. Getting frequent spot fires across line.

Spot fires occur when embers land on the unburned side of a fireline. This Watch Out depicts an engine crew attempting to contain several spot fires which are increasing in size while the main fire is also growing.

Read about all 18 Watch Out Situations.

This watch out situation clearly indicates how much potential your fire has for rapid, uncontrolled growth. Consider the following questions if you are getting spot fires across your line:

  • Can you handle increased spotting? List some ways you can keep ahead of spot fires (gridding the green, lookouts, etc.).
  • What is your probability of ignition doing? Is it increasing or decreasing?
  • Do you have a plan for long-range spotting? In what fuel type and under what conditions will you likely have long-range spotting? What types of plans can you think of for handling long-range spotting?
  • Is help available if necessary? What kinds of resources will you have in place, or order, to handle spot fires?
  • If fire behavior increases, is your position still defensible? Discuss what type of action you might take if a spot fire takes off.
  • Do you have more than one safety zone in case one gets cut off? Describe how you might have multiple safety zones.
  • Do the primary lookouts have a good view of the situation? Discuss who might be acting as a lookout (e.g., crew member, air resources, supervisors, etc.) and how you will get good information from that person. (Are you relying on an air attack that is busy with airtankers?)
  • Where are you in the burning period? Talk about how your tactics may vary from finding spot fires early in the day to later into the evening. Review Probability of Ignition (PIG) and what it can tell you about spotting potential.
  • To reduce the risk, be ready to retreat. Keep your guard up even if spotting has not occurred for a few hours. Review fires where you have had frequent spot fires and what you learned about controlling them.

 

Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

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