KTVL CBS Channel 10 Mailing List
 

News10 LiveLinks from BroadcastNews10 Good MorningSpecial Report: Hemp Love
KTVL CBS Channel 10 :: News - Top Stories - Fire Service stands by Biscuit decisions

Friday, July 13 2012, 10:40 AM CDT
Fire Service stands by Biscuit decisions
By Hillary Brown/KTVL.com

SELMA, Ore.― The summer of 2002 presented the perfect storm of circumstances for the blaze that would become known as the Biscuit Fire. 

That summer, flames scorched nearly 500,000 acres, burned four homes and left an indelible mark on communities throughout the Illinois Valley.

Illinois Valley Fire District Captain Tom Zulliger worked the Biscuit Fire.  Looking at the scorched hills of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, he can remember the lightning strikes that sparked the fires, as well as the actions that sparked controversy.

“I don’t know what they were thinking.  I know what they did,” Zulliger said as he spoke about the U.S. Forest Service’s response to the flames. “They didn’t take action on it for awhile.”

At the time it burned, the Biscuit Fire was Oregon’s largest and most expensive wildfire in recent history.  Controlling the flames took nearly two months and efforts to extinguish it completely lasted through the remainder of 2002.

Five fires combined to create the Biscuit Complex.  The first of the five was sparked when a line of dry lightning storms moved through Northern California and Southern Oregon beginning July 12, 2002.  There were 12,000 strikes over the course of three days, according to the U.S. Forest Service.  The strikes started 375 small fires.  The lightning added fuel to growing concerns that had already been fanned by increasing temperatures and a lack of resources.

“Two thousand two was another huge fire season in the southwest and Rocky Mountain area, so a lot of our local resources had been deployed to those areas,” said Paul Galloway of the U.S. Forest Service. “This is remote country.  The burning conditions were at the extreme level.”

Following the Biscuit Fire, Oregon representatives Greg Walden, Peter DeFazio and Scott McInnis requested a review of the reaction to the natural disaster.  The U.S. General Accounting Office did an investigation into the fire response, resource availability and personnel certification standards.  The goal of the report was to determine whether fire management had reacted appropriately to the fire and whether the mass burn could have been prevented.

The first two fires that would become part of the Biscuit were the Carter Fire and Biscuit 1. Crews were able to contain the Carter fire, according to the Forest Service.  By the time crews were able to get to the Biscuit 1, daylight was running out and access was an issue. 

Fire managers decided to let it burn.

The next day -- July 13 -- three more fires were identified.  All of those fires were in rugged areas and weren’t threatening homes.  Again, the decision was made to let them burn and to use the limited resources available on other fires.

It’s a move Illinois Valley Fire District Captain Joe Feldhaus understood.

“It was in the middle of an area that hadn’t burned in quite awhile, out in the wilderness,” he said. “Then, once it got its steam, there were other fires that needed attention, so it did not get the resources that it would have initially.”

The GAO report revealed the first 24 hours of a fire attack are crucial to getting flames under control.  Ninety-nine percent of fires aggressively fought in that time frame are extinguished.  Galloway agreed with that analysis, but said there was more at play with the Biscuit fires.

“The other fires were less accessible.  By the time we got there, with the resources that we had, they wouldn’t have been successful.  So we need to assess that, as far as safety for our firefighters and staff, are we putting them in a situation where, one, they can’t be successful and, two, they’re dealing with some pretty extreme fire behavior with limited safety zones and escape routes. Why would you do that?”

CALLS FOR HELP

Many people questioned the Forest Service's decisions as the fires burned larger and began to join together.  When the fires first started, the Forest Service called regional managers looking for support. 

News10 interviews and the government’s assessment of the response revealed differing answers as to whether fire managers called California for aide. 

The GAO said California was not called because fire managers assumed the state was busy fighting its own fires.

Galloway said California was contacted, but its offer of help was turned down for several reasons, including the limited time the helicopter would be available.

“We had that offer,” Galloway said. “Given the size of the fires, the availability of the helicopters was very limited as far as the time they'd be able to spend on the fire. The assessment was made that given the help that they were offering, it wasn’t going to be significant enough to try and engage them.”

Galloway went on to say that the overall lack of resources put the whole Forest Service in a tough position.

 “We had waivers that we could use mechanized equipment within the wilderness, drop retardant within the wilderness, those kinds of things were in place during the fire,” he pointed out.  “It’s just that, in order to utilize that stuff, you have to have boots on the ground and we couldn’t get them there.”

By July 17, the fires had been declared one for administrative purposes.  The combined fires were called the Biscuit Complex.  Within 10 days, the Forest Service was calling the fire “explosive.” Josephine County activated its Emergency Operations Center and evacuation notices were issued for the entire Illinois Valley.

“It was coming.  It looked like it was coming,” Feldhaus said. “It looked like it was going to come into the valley.” 

As fire managers made another controversial decision to back burn into the fire to protect towns, community members were growing more unhappy with the strategy and were concerned the back burns were too large.

“Honestly, people were mad at the Forest Service,” Feldhaus said. “They were mad that the Forest Service had let it go.”

The Forest Service maintained that’s what it had to do to protect people and homes.  On August 3, 2002, a fire behavior computer model gave a 70 percent probability that one segment of the fire would burn over communities in the Illinois Valley within 48 hours.

“Firefighters put in over 40 miles of fire line to try to halt the fire and minimize the impact,” Galloway said. “Pretty heroic stuff.”

LOOKING BACK

The Biscuit Fire was declared contained 55 days after it began and was controlled 119 days after the first starts. 

In all, the fire burned 499,570 acres and cost nearly $155 million to fight.  Four residences had been burned and 10 other structures lost.

As the tenth anniversary of the fire neared, the Forest Service continued to defend its actions.  A representative pointed out that no firefighters had been killed while battling the flames and no towns had been burned.

Looking back, Galloway said the decisions that were made were ones that put people and homes above everything else. Despite the questions and controversies, the Forest Service is standing by its decisions and its crews and crediting them for keeping the Biscuit Fire from becoming a larger disaster than it already was.

“There’s still a lot of emotion that’s tied to the event, whether you’re the resident and still want to do the armchair quarterbacking.. or the agency person,” Galloway said.  “It was a tough year.  We did what we could do with what we had. I don’t think many of the decisions, if any of the decisions, that were made during the first few days of that fire event would change much today.”

ONLINE

General Accounting Office Report on the Biscuit Complex Fire

Biscuit Fire from Space

Interactive Biscuit Fire Maps

READ MORE
From Awesome Glow to Scorched Earth: Remembering the Biscuit



Fire Service stands by Biscuit decisions

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Related Stories




KTVL Top Stories

Forest Service wants your suggestions

Community Benefitting from Football Shopping at Supermarkets

Residents Start Cleaning up Neighborhood in West Medford

Autopsy Report for Body Found near Ashland

35-Year-Old Horse Falls In A Ditch

Britt Festivals in crunch time

Charter Business phone service outage

Local businesses prepare for Super Bowl weekend

OSP: Body found near Ashland is missing suspect in OSP pipe bomb incident

Beloved former district attorney remembered by community

Medford Police in Hiring Process

Snowpack levels lower near Mt. Ashland

News10 News Break Jan. 30

Over 50 animals rescued from Jacksonville home

Dangers, Risks and Tips for Selling and Buying Online

Coming Out to be Counted

Downtown Medford Vacancies

Secret Booming Industry in Medford

Vacant homes could cost neighbors

Oregon high school graduation rates released

Long way to go for Oregon's 100 percent graduation goal

News10 Afternoon News Break Jan. 29

Your Sports 01/28/15

Another mistrial for man accused in 2013 murder

News10 Evening News Break Jan. 28

About 50 Jobless Because of Medford's Darigold Plant

Local rancher fears for the fruit of his labor

White City Reaction to Attempted Kidnapping

Big heart: Classmates give shout-out to missing Oregon teen

Oregon man gets 7 years for hitting pedestrian while drunk

National campgrounds getting a facelift

News10 Afternoon News Break Jan. 28

Crimestoppers: Grants Pass Bike Burglary

Jackson Co Sheriff: Attempted kidnapping of child in White City

Jail's new release system may trap some inmates

Montague Pipeline Means More Water And Less Fears

Finally Drinking Clear Water

State funding for full-time kindergarten

School district hoping to keep P.E. faculty

Philippines rejects US Marine's appeal to drop murder case

Some Oregon home brewers to try using treated sewage water

One suspect in NC murder caught in Reno

Power lines and mylar balloons do not mix

Josephine County residents rally for Riley

Jail releases drop with new system

Hope for the slopes for Mt. Ashland season pass holders

Oregon focus of effort to expand background checks for guns

Border collie sparks debate on euthanizing sick animals

News10 Afternoon News Break Jan. 26

G.M.O. in Jackson County Still a Hot Topic

West Medford Residents Cleaning up the Neighborhood

Businesses adjust to unseasonably warm weather

Man faces felony charge for throwing glass in bar

ODOT Putting More Eyes on I-5

Tax Twirlers Attracting More Customers

The Answer For Some Businesses... Food Trucks

DUII Crash in Phoenix

Lights Out Across Medford and Central Point

Local restaurant going mobile for a cause

News10 Special Report: Rent rates and realism affecting downtown businesses

70s serial killer arrested in Medford facing more charges

Changes on the horizon for Medford Center

Grandma power: Oregon purse snatcher can't shake her off car

Trial in killing of toddler at Oregon resort set for 2016

News10 Evening News Break Jan. 23

ODOT adding road cams in southern Oregon to update TripCheck

Convict charged with 1976's 'Gypsy Hill' murders

Ashland ranked best filmmaking city

Mount Ashland Lay-Offs

West Coast Flavors: Thai Peanut Sauce

Water Safe Despite Break-In at Treatment Plant

News10 Evening News Break Jan. 22

Police: Pastor's 28 hidden camera videos show nude teen girls

Lawmakers dealing with marijuana ahead of July 1 deadline

Murder suspect behind bars

News10 Evening News Break Jan. 21

New Restaurant With a Bacon Menu

Local state park's popularity increases crime

News10 Afternoon News Break Jan. 21

Bear cub that fell out of tree in Oregon gets chance to live

City of Talent preparing for future expansion

Murder in Klamath Falls brings in extra help to investigate

Puppy euthanization brings changes

MacCallum Sentenced to 50-Years

News10 Afternoon News Break Jan. 20

Man arrested in May slaying in Klamath County

Biggest medical marijuana grow site in Josephine County

DA: Man murdered in Klamath Falls

Medford's Most Wanted: Jan. 19

No snow drying up funds for Mt. Shasta businesses

News10 Special Report: Hemp Love, Part II

News10 Special Report: Hemp Love, Part I

Domestic disturbance not a new trend at state park

Roads re-open after 2 injured in Medford crash

News10 Afternoon News Break Jan. 19

Medford School District resolves dispute with teachers union

Oregon man pleads guilty to incest

US prepares for review of proposed Medford casino

Coming Together to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

Raining on Snow Parade at Mt. Ashland

Checkin' Out Campus

Former pastor under investigation

Teen dies in crash

Suspected car thief hides in hotel

Police investigate former pastor for secret recordings

Downtown Residence Gets Closer to Building

Car Chase Manhunt With One Suspect Still On The Loose

News10 Evening News Break Jan. 16

Local Electric Motorcycle Company Bought

10 Take Advantage of Free Chickenpox Vaccines

Crime Hits Medford

News10 Afternoon News Break Jan. 16

Feds order California drug maker to shut down

House bill proposes vacating marijuana misdemeanors

Los Angeles to consider preservation of 1950s-era restaurant

Sanders promises to defend Social Security

Authorities searching for 2 teens suspected in crime spree

Growers struggle with glut of legal pot in Washington state

Swanson Group says it will rebuild Ore. mill

US opens to Mexico long-haul trucking after 3-year pilot

Timber county payments fall after expiration of subsidy

Oregon parents seek $36 million in water-birth lawsuit

California agency releasing more state water after storms

Oregon justices hear appeal in bank bombing death sentence

Immigrants can now get Mexican birth certificates in US

Oregon agency hopes zoo, somewhere, can rehab scrawny bear

Crater Lake reports visitation up for 2014

City of Weed on road to recovery

News10 Evening News Break Jan. 15

Lone Wolf Spotted

Local Food Bank Needs More Food

Fresh eyes assigned to the Grubbs murder case

SWAT situation at Valley of the Rogue comes to an end

Small fire at elementary school deemed Arson

David Grubbs' case to get new set of eyes

News10 Afternoon News Break Jan. 15

Gold Hill residents asked whether full-time officer needed

News10 Evening News Break Jan. 14

Your Sports 01/14/15

Leaders Meet to Discuss Alzheimer's Issue

Medford School District works to boost ELL standards

Bear Cub's Fate Determined

Free Chickenpox Vaccines

Crimestoppers: John Aranda

Meat prices on the rise

Red Robin coming to Grants Pass

Klamath County Jail Needs Money... Now

Tuesday Talk: Anti-Muslim bus ads causing controversy

A quench for businesses

Measure 91 advocates buying up rural real estate

LifeArt Puts Work on Display at South Stage Cellars

Bringing in the Cheer and Helping the Community

Citizens Rally to Support Police

Boy Scouts Pick Up Old Christmas Trees

Art Walk at The Rogue Valley Mall

Fog pushes out green energy

Local Businesses Support the Oregon Ducks

The jig is up

Changes coming to Ashland Water Shed

Paisan's owner prevents power scam

Walmart Robbery Gets Community's Attention

Possible dive in airfare

National title brings victorious vibes

In-N-Out files application, but will it really come to Medford?

Chickenpox Action in Ashland

Wandering wolf head of Rogue pack

Oregon gets number one spot for move-ins

Alleged Purple Parrot robber arrested

Public Safety Levy in Josephine Co. Revised

Warm winter slows drought recovery

Tuesday Talk: Brewery in spotlight for Ghandi-Bot beer

Junior Spartans "special" team hits the ice

Sheriff Corey Falls gets sworn in

Chickenpox Spreads in Ashland

Top 10 scams of 2014 to be on the watch for in 2015

Saved Kittens

Immigrants seek California driver licenses

Early baby first of 2015

2014 Year in Review Part 2

2014 Year in Review Part 1

New Years Resolution

New Meth House Law

Washington 19-year-old wants to adopt 16-year-old brother

Hasbro to replace penis-shaped Play-Doh toy

Crimestoppers: Stolen Cars

Architect firm fired from project

Boles Fire donation center closes

Bomb Shakes Stevenson Park

Scalper buys $650 worth of tickets for "The Interview," demands refund

Standing With The Thin Blue Line

Tuesday Talk: Off-duty FBI agent kills dog

Medford's Most Wanted Dec. 29

Crews work on snowy roads

Locals Question Ashland Police Department about Hannah Thomas-Garner

Tagging in Medford neighborhoods on the rise over the holiday weekend

Health shops see rise in business thanks to approaching New Year

Beekman house donates to ACCESS

Getting ready for winter

Released prisoner worries her nightmare isn't over

Mount Ashland ski area re-opens

Big Check For Local Organization

Train crashes into truck in Central Point

Medford's Most Wanted Dec.22

Dog sledding available locally

Mount Ashland opens for the season

Busy Travel Season

More graffiti reports in Medford

Pawn shop changes looming in Medford

Pawn Shop Arrests

Shop Small in Jacksonville

Mt Ashland set to open Friday

SOU Raiders head to national championship

Childhood Illness Sweeps Ashland

Generous surprise brings tears of joy

Tuesday Talk: Nordstrom fires employee over Facebook post

Holiday heist dampens Christmas spirit

Southern Oregon Subaru Shares The Love

Spartans turning Medford into hockey town

Eagle Point butcher shop gives back to community

Ashland police shop with children

Holiday Fire Damage

Local reservoirs see a boost from rain

Activists protesting LNG pipeline in Southern Oregon

Storm causes trouble for trees and homeowners

Lark's Gingerbread Scones

Man dies after pinned beneath tree

Rain and winds expected to continue

Medford's Most Wanted Dec. 8

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Should your town impose a 1-year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries?
ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) — One of Oregon's more liberal cities is considering a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Ashland Daily Tidings newspaper reports that the Oregon Health Authority Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program has already received six dispensary applications for Ashland.

But neighborhood opposition has been increasing and the council will discuss a moratorium on April 1.

People hoping to launch dispensaries in Oregon began submitting applications to the state on March 3 as part of a new medical marijuana regulatory system.

A proposed dispensary called Top Shelf Meds abuts an Ashland neighborhood.

Carol Kim says the dispensary is separated from her home by a hedge. She says it's ironic that state rules bar dispensaries near schools, but her daughters will come home from school and have to live near a dispensary.
___

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.
YES
My town should definitely impose the moratorium for one year -- no more, no less.
NO
My town should NOT impose the moratorium for any length of time. My town should follow current state laws on medical marijuana dispensaries.
Undecided
I am unsure whether I am in favor of medical marijuana dispensaries in my town, regardless of current state laws.

Business News

US economy slows to 2.6 percent growth in fourth quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy slowed in the final three months of 2014 as a big burst in consumer spending was offset by weakness in other areas.

Consumer Info

   WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- (Marketwired) -- 03/21/14 --
 Companies that pride themselves on being eco-friendly may have conflicted
 ideas between marketing with ad specialties and maintaining their green
 reputation. ...

Entertainment News

SUGE KNIGHT KILLS MAN WITH CAR

COMPTON, Calif. (AP) -- There are a lot of conflicting accounts about what happened yesterday when Suge (SHUG) Knight was behind the wheel of a vehicle that hit two men, killing one of them.

Get This

SUPER BOWL-FIRE ALARM

CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) -- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady isn't losing any sleep -- at least not when the fire alarm goes off.

Science/Tech News

IN THE NEWS: REPORTER CLAIMS COMPUTER WAS HACKED BY FEDS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Justice Department official is disputing claims by a former CBS News correspondent that the Feds secretly monitored her personal computer.


 
  • KTVL :: News - Across The Nation

    Across The Nation

    News and information from across the nation.
  • KTVL :: News - Border Crisis

    Border Crisis



  • KTVL :: News - Elections Day

    Elections Day

    Elections are in full swing in your town.Stick with News10 as the ballots continue to be submitted!
  • KTVL :: News - The Great Outdoors

    The Great Outdoors

    Join KTVL News10 for The Great Outdoors, a weekly segment featuring numerous activities related to outdoor living in Southern Oregon and Northern California.
  • KTVL :: News - Medford Teachers Strike

    Medford Teachers Strike

    As of 7 p.m. Wednesday February 5, 2014, no compromise in the dispute over a new contract between the Medford School District and Medford Education Association. 
  • KTVL :: News - Rogue River Homicide

    Rogue River Homicide

    The Jackson County Sheriff's office says 65-year-old Susan Monica was arrested for identity theft and other theft charges last Friday...
  • KTVL :: News - Patricia MacCallum Murder Trial

    Patricia MacCallum Murder Trial

    Patricia MacCallum is accused of shooting and killing her husband, Christopher MacCallum, during a camping trip last year. Patricia MacCallum's trial began Nov. 18. News10 is at the courthouse and will ...
  • KTVL :: News - Health Matters

    Health Matters

    Local Health Care Professionals Providing You With Helpful Health Tips!
  • KTVL :: News - Fire Watch 2013

    Fire Watch 2013

    Your source for evacuations, closures and relief efforts.
  • KTVL :: News - Your Voice. Your Future.

    Your Voice. Your Future.

    As the country faces challenges from federal budget issues to jobs and national debt, your voice is critical to the future.
  • KTVL :: News - Medfords Most Wanted

    Medfords Most Wanted

    Each week, News10 looks at the Rogue Valley's most wanted criminals and finds out who has been caught.
  • KTVL :: News - Health Care Reform

    Health Care Reform

     The Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act sparked a new battle. Check here daily for the latest developments, locally and across the country.
  • KTVL :: News - Biscuit Fire:Ten Years Later

    Biscuit Fire:Ten Years Later

    It has been ten years since the Biscuit Fire scorched 500,00 acres in the Siskiyou National Forest.

  • KTVL :: News - Tasty Topics

    Tasty Topics

    We've all seen News10's Trish Glose tasting food on West Coast Flavors. Now she has more space to talk about food and drink!
  • KTVL :: News - No Text Zone

    No Text Zone

    Texting While Driving Kills Thousands of People Each Year. Many More are Seriously Injured. You Can Help Make Our Roads a NO TEXT ZONE
  • KTVL :: News - Washington Times

    Washington Times

    Politics, Breaking News, US and World News.
  • KTVL :: News - Reality Check

    Reality Check

    How are your tax dollars being spent? Reality Check tracks whether local, state and federal governments or any groups are using your money wisely...or wasting it.
  • KTVL :: News - Your View

    Your View

    When you see news, share it with us. Your View is the perfect place to share the video and photos you capture your town.
  • KTVL :: News - Green Wednesday

    Green Wednesday

    There are limits to our natural resources and News 10's Green Wednesday provides information on how we can be better stewards of the environment.

  • KTVL :: News - Cool Schools

    Cool Schools

    News10 is visiting Medford elementary schools and letting them show us what makes their school great.
  • KTVL :: News - On The Town

    On The Town

    On the Town highlights local entertainment activities from concerts at the Craterian, to plays, parades and fun runs, for the week and weekends in Medford and counties in Southern Oregon.
  • KTVL :: News - To Your Health

    To Your Health

    Dr. Dan, Monday KTVL News10 at 5 answers your health questions and discusses the latest developments in medecine. If you have questions, find the e-mail address and mailing address at ktvl.com.
  • KTVL :: News - West Coast Flavors

    West Coast Flavors

    Who doesn't love good food? News 10 invites area chefs to the West Coast Appliance kitchen to cook up their favorite recipes.

  • KTVL :: News - Crime Stoppers

    Crime Stoppers

    Crime Stoppers, Medford, Southern Oregon's answer to crime at ktvl.com. Find a police report of the active case, descriptons of suspects, vehicle information, rewards.

  • KTVL :: News - Rogue Gangs

    Rogue Gangs

    Gangs are a growing concern for police in Southern Oregon and Northern California. News 10 is taking an in-depth look at the issue.
  • KTVL :: News - Links from Our Broadcast

    Links from Our Broadcast

    Links and numbers from our newscasts at KTVL News10, Medford, Southern Oregon's news source. Relevant links to research topics of interest or to contact organizations.

  • KTVL :: News - Consumer Links

    Consumer Links

    Consumer information, links and numbers. Useful links to protect and educate the consumer from the Oregon and California State Departments, the federal government and other Associations.
  • KTVL :: News - Safety Links

    Safety Links

    Safety - links and numbers at ktvl.com. Emergency preparedness plans for Curry, Jackson, and Josephine counties' citizens. Links to California and Oregon Emergency Management Offices, National Safety Council, ...
  • KTVL :: News - Voting Links

    Voting Links

    Links to websites full of information and background material, as well as sites that help you take action.
  • KTVL :: News - Local Links

    Local Links

    Local links for Medford, Southern Oregon and Northern California. Community links for Curry, Josephine, Jackson, Klamath, Lake and Siskiyou Counties, schools, cities, chambers of commerce, Rogue Valley ...

more »

Tonight on KTVL

10:00am:  NCAA Basketball: Michigan @ Michigan St.
12:00pm:  Golf: Waste Management Phoenix Open
  3:00pm:  (various)
  5:00pm:  The Good Wife (R)
  6:00pm:  News10 at 6pm
  6:30pm:  CBS Evening News
  7:00pm:  60 Minutes
  8:00pm:  NCIS (R)
  9:00pm:  CSI (R)
10:00pm:  Criminal Minds (R)
11:00pm:  News10 at 11pm
11:30pm:  Blue Bloods (R)
12:30am:  The Road to Signing Day

Complete Schedule »