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Anything outdoors!  Tornadoes, eagles, blizzards, or auroras.  If it is in the sky, running through the woods or swimming in the water, I'm there!

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Princeton, MN Wildfire with airdrops! And the first rule of a good stringer is...

never leave home without a video camera. Yeah, I'm getting sloppy as I have only been carrying still cameras with me. Time to get back in the groove!

***UPDATE...this fire was caused by someone who was boiling maple syrup when a gust of wind ignited some nearby grass and quickly jumped to the nearby woods and swamp***

What started out am evening wildlife viewing trip for Melinda and I turned out to be a little more exciting. From 35 miles away, Melinda spotted a smoke plume which I assumed to be a controlled burn at the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. I figured what the heck, we may as well go take a look. As we got closer, it became evident the fire was northeast of the refuge. As we started to get close, a Sherburne county deputy had CR3 blocked so we headed north...which was fine with me as I figured looking south / southeast against the smoke plume would be good with the setting sun at my back.

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Well, we got more than we bargained for as we turned down a township road and got within a half mile of where the DNR and USFWS were doing airdrops by tanker plane and helicopter to knock down the hotspots near some farmsteads they were trying to save.

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This tanker made several runs at the fire. It would head east over to Green Lake east of Princeton to fill up then head west just over the treetops while dropping it's water.

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Several local fire departments provided mutual aid in protecting the homes near the perimeters.

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The USFWS used a helicopter with a dump bucket to douse the hot spots.

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After dumping, the chopper would head over to a nearby farm with a watering pond.

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The bucket would quickly fill...

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and head right back to the fire. It was pretty amazing to watch the skill of the pilot.

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Back into position to make another drop.

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Yes, the water out of the pond was that green...no fire retardant in this.

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Once the spotter plane circling overhead determined the fire to be contained enough, the ground work began.

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The locals who were either evacuated or who had been watching the water drops with us seemed to breathe a bit easier as more DNR and USFWS firefighters moved in.

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All in all this was a pretty dramatic event. Melinda and I checked out the east side of the burn area and didn't see any structures which had been lost. There was one stretch of CR3 which was still closed as darkness set it but I'll had back tomorrow to see the aftermath...and bring a video camera with just in case.

2 comments:

Trainspotter-USA said...

Super collection of pictures. My house was directly underneath the approach path of the DNR firefighting plane as it lined up to drop the water

Lacie said...

Those are great pictures. I live about 5 miles away from green lake and the tanker plain had to make passes above my house. I got photo's of the smoke over the field never to our house and of the plain itself. It was very existing!

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