17 May 2008, 8:24pm
The 2008 Fire Season
by admin

The Honeybee Fire: A Whoofoo Blows Up In California

The Honeybee Fire is a whoofoo (wildland use fire) currently burning out of control in the Inyo National Forest. The Honeybee Fire was ignited by lightning on May 6. Although the fire could have been readily extinguished with little effort and expense, Inyo NF officials led by Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch decided to Let It Burn.

Today the Honeybee Fire reached over 1,150 acres in size. It has burned from the Pacific Crest Trail near Haiwee Pass (30 miles south of Lone Pine, CA) westward into the Kern River watershed. The fire has crossed the Kern River in the Kennedy Meadows area, and is burning onto the Sequoia National Forest.

The Honeybee Fire has grown nearly 4-fold in the last two days. The 8-man fire use management team (FUM) assigned to the fire was unable to manage or “steer” the fire as high winds swept over the Sierra Crest.

Today (May 17) two 25-man crews were sent to fight the Honeybee WFU Fire. As far as we know the official status of the Honey Bee Fire is still WFU although suppression efforts have been applied.

No notice has been issued regarding the Pacific Crest Trail, but we assume it is either closed or very dangerous from Haiwee Pass to Olancha Pass at the moment.

At this writing there is no mention of this incident on InciWeb. Most of the on-the-ground info comes from Cal Fire News [here]. No cost to date information has been released.

Inyo NF officials led by Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch apparently believed that they would watch this fire burn from May until October or November. They issued a press release [here] that states:

Fire management officials from the Inyo National Forest are working closely with fire management from the Sequoia National Forest in the monitoring of the Honeybee Fire to ensure that it continues to meet resource objectives as it burns.

What those “resource objectives” are is not stated. No NEPA planning, no Environmental Impact Statement, no Environmental Analysis, and no public involvement of any kind were implemented prior to the decision to let the Honeybee Fire burn for six months.

Now the “unplanning” has backfired and nearly 60 firefighters are risking their lives to stop a fire that could have been extinguished by one man with a shovel 11 days ago. Many millions of dollars will be spent on the Honeybee Fire. It could blow up and become one of the largest fires in California history. That possibility is real because Inyo NF officials led by Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch are still operating under the delusion that the Honeybee Fire is “good” for resources.

Your tax dollars are being spent to destroy your forests by the most irresponsible and lawless agency of the Federal Government, the US Forest Service.

The Honeybee Fire will go down in history as a catastrophic mistake. Remember, you read it here first. As of the time of this writing, no other news outlet has carried this story (except for Cal Fire News [here], a stellar source of fire info in California).

For more late-breaking information on the Honeybee Fire, see the W.I.S.E. Fire Tracking Site [here].

18 May 2008, 4:36pm
by Mike

Ironically, the Sequoia NF announced the beginning of fire season May 14th. They warned everyone using the forest and adjacent landowners to be very careful. Then their adjacent sister Inyo NF sent a whoofoo raging down upon them.

The Sequoia announcement is [here]:

Fire season officially begins when seasonal firefighting equipment and personnel are in place, prepared, and ready to respond. Considerable early season fire activity in Southern California has fire officials concerned that the threat of wildland fires will significantly increase as conditions become drier in the low elevation foothills and mountainous areas.

Homeowners living in the Wildland Urban Interface are reminded to complete their defensible space by clearing hazardous dry vegetation away from their homes, outbuildings and property. State law requires property owners to clear a minimum of 100 feet from any structure. Property clearance for fuels reduction work must be completed by June 1st.

If you plan on visiting the Sequoia National Forest or BLM lands, visitors must have a California campfire permit in their possession for the use of wood fires, charcoal barbecues, and portable gas stoves using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel. These permits are free and can be obtained from any Forest Service, BLM or California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection office.

With the potential for a hot and dry summer ahead, fire officials urge the public to “Please Be Fire Safe,” when visiting our forests and public lands. Communities need to be prepared!! Wildfires can be damaging. It’s a clear choice, “Be Fire Wise!!!”

18 May 2008, 8:20pm
by bear bait

I found the NWCC had the Honeybee Fire listed as a WFU at 950 acres… just a little arson here, and little there, and pretty soon you don’t have to worry about fire… the government arsonists have burned all the fuel.

I did see a former USFS guy, retired, at the local flea market today. He said the USFS is not recognizable to him from his perspective. He cannot fathom how unorganized, direction-less, hopeless the whole deal is today compared to when he started in the early 50s. Said it all started to devolve in the early 70’s and by the time he left in the mid ’90s, the outfit couldn’t find itself with a gps, a map, a compass, and a guide. He just shook his head. Said he put all his belt buckles, gear in a box in the attic. Gone. He can’t figure out how the USFS has lasted this long.

He did tell me that Detroit Dam has all the bay doors open, and the Breitenbush and North Fork are bank high and kayak killers right now. He said there is a lot more snow to leave, and it will take a month of hot weather to get the better part of it melted. He also said he was tired of shoveling snow, which it seems is how he spent his winter. I guess he lives up there somewhere.

18 May 2008, 10:31pm
by Mike

Thank you, bear, for all the metaphors.

I am tired of shoveling, too.

The Wilderness Society sits now on the WFLC and has extorted, colluded, and bribed the USFS into a national program of whoofoos, convincing them that Let It Burn is the right course, even in May, with absolute disregard for the environment and for all our environmental laws.

And then those words — extortion, collusion, and bribery — usher from the foaming mouth of a bought-and-paid-for judge as he condemns common timber sale procedures meant to support fire-preventative thinnings in a lawsuit brought by TWS against the USFS, as if The Wilderness Society gave a measly shit about laws they violate with impunity!!!!

Burn, Baby, Burn, with all the devilishness they can muster. It is a Satanic plot, without purpose, except pure destruction, holocaust, and Evil.

Ah me. I grow weary. Try it again tomorrow, I guess. I am grateful that you understand, and even sympathize. Day by day, inch by inch, shovelful by shovelful.

20 May 2008, 9:33am
by Mike


The National Weather Service has isued a Red Flag Warning for much of southern Sierra Nevada, Mohave County, Arizona, and portions of southeast California from 1 pm to 9 pm this evening (Tues. 05/20) for gusty winds and low humidities.

A strong area of high pressure will give way to a strong Pacific low pressure system which will reach Northern California this afternoon. Increasing southwest winds will combine with hot and dry weather to produce critical fire weather conditions this afternoon and evening.

22 Jun 2008, 7:01pm
by Floyd S.

I live about five miles North of Inyokern, east of the 14-395 Hwy intersection. I’ve been watching the smoke plume of this fire gradually move South for a while wondering what it was. Today, June 22, I looked up the afternoon and saw some vertical smoke and a few seconds later a big white cap appeared and grew.

Now the plume is massive and at times the whitecap looks to be up around 30 thousand feet high which looks to me like it just wiped out some small drainage up there somewhere. The website “Owens Lake Dustcam” shows the smoke in the southern end of the camera’s view but the fire is burning so far south now it is nearly out of range.

Who lights or let’s burn a fire in a dry, dry May? The winds of spring are still very active this year which nobody could predict, but still June is never a picnic when it comes to forest fires, and there are plenty of other fires in California right now drawing the resources. I suppose the fuel reducers are accomplishing their goals because the last time I was up over Nine Mile/Sherman pass there was quite a lot burned by the Manter Fire, which came close to the burn area of the fire started by those irate speed demon burning hotdogs behind Road’s End. By the time the Honeybee/Clover Fire is over it will take out a sizable chunk of the remaining fuel. Should be safe for decades.

A few decades ago the infamous Flat fire burned up there a little to the West. It burned from the Forks of the Kern up the “Flatiron”,which was its namesake, jumped across the South Fork of the Kern and up the canyon devouring one side drainage each afternoon for two weeks despite major efforts to head it off. That whole area is all rough and remote and the fuels are pretty resinous. Anyway, do you want to know why they don’t declare it out of control? It is because they don’t have to pay “hazard pay” differential to all the firefighters if a fire is “in control”. As we used to say “It’s the same all over!”.


22 Jun 2008, 7:54pm
by Mike

For those readers who have forgotten (or perhaps never heard of) the Peshtigo Fire of 1871, I recommend this website:


22 Jul 2009, 11:53am
by Dave

“The Honeybee Fire will go down in history as a catastrophic mistake. Remember, you read it here first.”

Really… It’s been over a year now and unless I am gravely mistaken this “catastrophic mistake” has passed out of all knowledge. I suggest you have a lot to learn about the role fire plays in forest ecology.

22 Jul 2009, 12:38pm
by Mike

Dave, you are right. The Honeybee WFU Fire (1,235 acres, $244,000) was overshadowed by the Clover WFU Fire (15,300 acres, $8,315,000) and the Piute Mountain Fire (37,026 acres, $23,647,000), all on the Sequoia NF.

The latter fire destroyed Camp Nick Williams (BSA), the 700-acre Bodfish Piute cypress (Cupressus arizonica var. nevadensis) grove, patches of the endangered Piute Mountain jewel-flower (Streptanthus cordatus var. piutensis) and other rare plants of the Piute Mountain sky island nunatak [here].

The Clover WFU Fire was in the vicinity of the Honeybee Fire and like that WFU was allowed to burn unchecked, until it blew up and burned all the way to Highway 395. Recreation was shut down, including the Pacific Crest Trail, and homes were threatened many miles away from the ignition point [here].

I am no expert in “fire ecology,” which is phony science if there ever was one. My expertise is in forest ecology and forest science, both of which study living organisms (not the joys of combustion) as is appropriate for any scientific discipline that sports the word “ecology.” To learn more about the role that human beings have played for the last 10,000+ vis a vis fire in landscapes and the ecological effects of anthropogenic ignitions, please see the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: History of Western Landscapes [here].



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