Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for the ‘Fires/Wildfires’ Category

February 13, 1945: A series of Allied firebombing raids begins against the German city of Dresden, reducing the city to rubble and killing as many as 135,000 people with the bombing and the resulting fires.


1/29/1922: At the Knickerbocker Theatre in Washington, D.C., the accumulated snow on the theater’s roof collapses the building and tons of steel and concrete fell down on top of the theatergoers cusing the deaths of 108 and injuring another 133.

History Channel



12/30/1903: The deadliest theater fire in U.S. history as a fire in the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, Illinois, kills more than 600 people

History Channel

“…..Blocked fire exits and the lack of a fire-safety plan caused most of the deaths…..”

A barge carrying a New Year fireworks display caught fire at an Australian beach injuring 2 and causing thousands of people on the beach to be moved to safety


NASA: California’s December Inferno

California’s December Inferno

It is rare for large wildfires to burn in California in December, which is usually a wet month for the state. In most years, a few hundreds acres might burn. The 2006 Shekell fire in Ventura charred 13,600 acres, making it the largest December fire in the state between 2000 and 2016.

In 2017, the Thomas fire shattered the record for December and may soon eclipse the worst blaze in any month. After burning for 16 days, the massive fire had scorched 272,000 acres (110,000 hectares or 425 square miles) and was just 60 percent contained. That made it the second largest fire on record in California, trailing only the Cedar fire, which burned 273,246 acres in 2003.

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured an image of the Thomas fire scar on December 18, 2017. The natural-color Landsat 8 image was draped over an ASTER-derived Global Digital Elevation Model, which shows the topography of the area. The fire raged first near Ventura, then burned the hills around communities of Ojai and Oak View. Firefighters put up a fierce fight and managed to prevent flames from descending into the valley towns. Flames then pushed west toward Summerland, Montecito, and Santa Barbara. As of December 20, the fire was still spreading along the northern edge of the burn scar.

Authorities reported that more than 1,200 structures—most of them in Ventura County—have been destroyed. Several factors came together to make the blaze difficult to control. An usually wet winter and spring in early 2017 caused vegetation to flourish. Then the dry season turned out to be excessively dry, and rains also have been scarce in the typically wetter months of November and December. All of that vegetation dried out and was primed to burn. Once the fire started, warm temperatures and unusually fierce Santa Ana winds caused the fire to spread rapidly.

After nearly two weeks of red flag conditions, a break in the weather has allowed firefighters to beat back the flames in the past few days. But fire officials still do not expect the Thomas fire to be completely contained until January 2018.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and ASTER GDEM data from NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team. Story by Adam Voiland.

Terra – ASTER
Landsat 8 – OLI

At least 14 died and 16 were injured when a fire engulfed an upscale rooftop restaurant in central Mumbai.

Hindustan Times

‘…….“There was a stampede and someone pushed me,” said Sulbha Arora, a gynaecologist, in a tweet. “People were running over me even as the ceiling above me was collapsing in flames. Still don’t know how I got out alive.”……..Police filed a complaint against Hitesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi, and Abhijit Manka, owners of a restaurant in the building, and charged them with causing death due to negligence……’


Major Bronx apartment fire kills at least 12

He said there were 12 fatalities so far, and that “we may lose others as well.”
Four people had been “critically injured,” the mayor said, and others were hurt….”

NASA: Thomas Fire’s impact on air quality

California Wildfire Emissions

After more than a week of burning, the wildfires in Southern California continue to loft a nasty mixture of aerosols and gases into the atmosphere.

On December 11, 2017, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a natural color image (left) of smoke billowing from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California. By that day, the fire had already burned 230,500 acres (93,000 hectares or 360 square miles).

The corresponding map (right) shows the concentration of carbon monoxide in the area, based on data collected by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on Aqua. The concentrations reflect total “column” amounts of the gas, measured vertically through the atmosphere by AIRS. Orange areas indicate the highest concentrations of carbon monoxide.

When fires burn through a fuel source—such as vegetation, gasoline, or coal—emissions can include everything from hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide. Close to the source of the fire, the air quality on that day was rated unhealthy. As the image pair shows, smoke and carbon monoxide appear offshore as well.

Dejian Fu, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, thinks that the carbon monoxide plume likely stemmed from the burning onshore and then blew out over the Pacific Ocean. This map shows the gas concentration up to an altitude of about 5 kilometers above the surface.

Carbon monoxide contributes to reactions that produce ground-level ozone, a harmful pollutant. It can also make breathing difficult to dangerous when trapped near the ground.

NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using MODIS data from LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response and AIRS data from the Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC). Story by Kathryn Hansen.

The Thomas fire: The 2nd largest in modern California history (272,000 acres)

LA Times


Fire Information Report for Thomas

Report Date: 20-DEC-17

Burnt Area: 271,000 Acres
Location: Ventura County, California
Cause: Undetermined
Incident Team Type: IMT Type 1
Containment Status: 55% contained
Expected Containment: 07-Jan-18


New evacuation orders were issued in Santa Barbara County on Saturday as the massive Thomas fire took aim at the hills above Montecito.

Forest Service

IMSR Summary
December 16th, 2017

National Preparedness Level

Level 2

National Fire Activity

Initial attack activity: Light (35) new fires
New large incidents: 2
Large fires contained: 3
Uncontained large fires: 4
Area Command teams committed: 0
NIMOs committed: 0
Type 1 IMTs committed: 2
Type 2 IMTs committed: 1

Incident Management Situation Report


Fire Information Report for Thomas

Report Date: 17-DEC-17

Burnt Area: 256,000 Acres
Location: Ventura County, California
Cause: Undetermined
Incident Team Type: IMT Type 1
Containment Status: 40% contained
Expected Containment: 07-Jan-18


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