U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 343


Rafting the Telegraph Fire ... but no camping for now

A river raft isn’t your typical firefighting tool.

But BLMers in the Merced River Gorge used one to help fight the Telegraph Fire. The fire, started by a target shooter on July 27, has burned 34,000 acres, 21,000 acres on BLM land managed by the Folsom Field Office.

George Pratsinak, a seasonal river ranger, was in the gorge near Briceburg when the fire started. “It was like a bomb went off,” he said. The fire roared up the slopes on both sides of the river, sending flames 100 feet in the air above the top of the ridges. (text continues below)

Flames and smoke from the Telegraph Fire dwarf a firefighting crew bus, on the second day of the blaze ((photo courtesy Mikel Martin, CalFire Mariposa)
Flames and smoke from the Telegraph Fire dwarf a firefighting crew bus, on the second day of the blaze (photo courtesy Mikel Martin, Cal Fire Mariposa)

A helicopter pumps water out of the Merced River to drop on the fire 
A helicopter pumps water out of the Merced River to drop on the fire
A close-up shows the helicopter blades spraying water from the river as a large hose dips into the river

Pratsinak and Dave Greenwood, BLM outdoor recreation planner, saw firemen swimming across the river carrying hose. “He asked if we had a boat. We said of course we have a boat, we’re river rangers,” Pratsinak said. He and Greenwood set up a raft shuttle carrying firemen and hose across the river.

Although the fire burned vegetation up the slopes, the camping facilities at Briceburg were largely untouched. One porta-potty, however, was reduced to a wire loop and a lump of melted plastic the size of a hockey puck.

A BLM ranger holds all that is left of a porta-potty - the tissue holder and a lump of melted plastic
A BLM ranger holds all that is left of a portable potty - the tissue holder and a lump of melted plastic

Although the facilities survived the fire, the Briceburg recreation area is closed indefinitely for safety reasons. Without the vegetation to hold them, rocks and logs are tumbling down the hill onto the road.

Part of the burned area above Merced River campgrounds
Part of the burned area above Merced River campgrounds

Personnel from the BLM, USDA Forest Service and CalFire spread maps out on a picnic table to coordinate firefighting plans in the area of the Merced River
Personnel from the BLM, USDA Forest Service and CalFire spread maps out on a picnic table to map out fire damage to the areas around the Merced River

- D. Christy, 8/08


BLM-California News.bytes, issue 343


 
Last updated: 08-06-2008