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Chisholm Tower Photo Journal

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Welcome to the Chisholm Tower Photo Journal  for the 2002 fire season. We will try to add new tidbits and change the photos on this page bi weekly.

Information Bulletin

June 6, 2002

House River Wildfire Update

Despite some precipitation reported over the eastern part of the fire overnight, the fire continues to be out of control with some growth to the north of Conklin. The fire remains 5 kilometres west of Conklin. Work to limit the spread of the fire continues as Alberta Sustainable Resource Development enhances the existing firebreaks and cat guards around the fire and around the hamlet.

"Our fire fighters continue to do an excellent job under tough conditions. Erratic fire behaviour has made it challenging to fight this fire on the front line. As well, our highly trained staff and contractors have been effective in building fire guards along the north and west flanks, limiting the fire's spread," said Mike Cardinal, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development.

"While the major fires are getting a lot of attention, our fire fighters are attacking new fires early and have already extinguished 348 fires throughout the province since April 1," added Cardinal.

The Mariana Lake complex and the communities of Janvier and Chard remain on evacuation alert. For more information on the evacuation alert, call the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Emergency Operation Centre at (780) 799-8000.

Much lower temperatures and higher relative humidity values, 45 per cent, are expected accompanied with strong west winds at 25 km/hr shifting from the northwest at 40 km/hr. A high probability of additional shower activity is expected

Secondary Highway 881 remains closed from junction 858 to the Janvier Access. Highway 63 remains open but a travel advisory has been issued, due to smoke, between Mariana Lake and Wandering River. For current highway information, contact Alberta Transportation at 1-800-272-9600.

As of 11:30 a.m., June 6, 2002 the following information is known:

House River Fire:

  • Over 280,000 hectares (691,600 acres) in size. Alberta's second biggest fire since 1961.
  • Resources include;
    • 907 firefighters
    • 8 air tankers
    • 61 helicopters
    • 108 dozers
    • 13 water trucks

There is currently a fire ban in existence for this area. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development is advising all Albertans to take extra precautions during these dry conditions to make sure their actions do not start a wildfire.

Alberta Sustainable Resource Development has increased its forest area closure, prohibiting public access to the area in and around the House River fire.

Visit for more information on municipal fire bans.

To report a wildfire, call collect (780) 427-FIRE (3473), or #FIRE on the Telus Mobility Network.

May 20,2002
   Hello Folks,
   Time for an update. The fire situation has turned extreme in the NE boreal region of Alberta. It has been very dry with very strong SE winds. For those of you that haven't caught it in the news, there are two major fires burning around the Lac La Biche area. The one to the south in the county started from a camp site at Bellis along highway 28 east of Smokey Lake. This fire spread fast, closing the highway and destroying at least one home. It started on saturday May18 and to my knowledge is still burning out of control. 
  The second major fire has been burning since friday, May17. It is in the Forest fire protection area north of Lac La Biche. On saturday morning it was reported to be approximatly 900 to 1000 hectares in size, By sunday it had doubled in size and now I hear it to be approximatly 60,000 hectars. Christina Basin fire tower sat in the direct path of the head of the fire. It was evacuated on saturday. I don't know if the tower was saved or not. I'll let everyone know about that in my next report. The fire has caused the closure of highway 63 north to Fort McMurray. This is the only highway in and out of Fort McMurray. Yesterday they were trying to get close to the fire to try and determine if the main powerline to Fort Mcmurray had been burnt over or not. They were having a hard time getting into confirm this due to the heavy smoke.
   So far I have had one fire in my area. It was just south of the big Chisholm fire from last year by a couple of kilometers. Luckily I had a HAC crew and helicopter stationed here at the tower and they were up flying patrol and were on it right as soon as I reported it. With the help of the local fire dept. and locals in the area the fire was quickly gotten under control. The days have been long keeping a vigilant watch on our forest. We need at least one day of steady rain to lower are hazard at all. Thats all for now folks. Lets find them small and get them out quick!!

May12: Hello there folks,
  Things have been pretty quiet around here. The snow stayed around for the first two weeks, then disappeared into the ground and it started to get dry really fast. My hazard is sitting between moderate & high. I have had one smoke and it was not found.
  We are pretty much settled in here now. I had a chance the other night to try and sneak up on a small heard of elk to get a picture(BELOW). We got much closer than it looks in the picture.  There was two bulls with magnificent sets of antlers on them and there harem consisted of four cows.
   We have started on the yard work( and its a big yard!!), hopefully try to get in the garden today. The apple tree is starting to get buds on it. The coniferous and deciduous are starting to bud out also. Now if the grass would only start to green up.
  We had a few light showers go over yesterday and there was lightning picked up by the lightning monitor to the north of me. I never heard any other towers report any lightning and I never saw any. I'm still waiting for the first good  storm.
  There has been a HAC daybased out of Smith for the past few days. They landed here yesterday and spent the afternoon here on standby in case anything did come up from the small storms that were in the area. They where kind enough to let me take there picture.Thanx group. (photo below)

April 11/2002: The day I commenced to open Chisholm tower. Meeting in Lac La Biche to meet new supervisor,go over new safety policies and procedures. It was a beautiful day, sun shining and the temp was approx. +12c
April 12/2002: Moving day! Loaded up the truck and drove 1/2 hour to the tower. The Coms. Tech., Carpenter and grader where all there waiting for us to let them in. The Coms. Tech got stuck in the driveway before the grader had a chance to plow it out.(He blamed it on having a chevy truck)lol  The grader had to pull him out. This day was a wonderfull  also, sunny +12.
April 13/2002: Today we move the remainder of our supplies, the kids and pets to the tower. We're moving in!! The day is cloudy. It starts of with a temp. of about +2c and gets up to +8c. It is raining at the tower but not at home.By evening it is cooling off and it is starting to look like snow.
April 14/2002: Our first night at the tower was a cozy one. We woke to a full fledged snow storm. By the End of the day we have accumulated about 15cm(6in.) of snow and it is still coming down. The news on the television says the weather is supposed to stay like this for most of the week. Tomorrow is supposed to be the official opening of Chisholm Tower. Looks like it may be a slow start to the fire season. I was up the tower once and that was to help install the radios with the coms tech.

360 Degree view from the tower
My son & I are playing with making animations.

BC HAC crew & Pilot of YHB
There are two BC crews alternating initial attack duties from the tower

Whitecourt Hac Crew & Pilot of YHQ
Whitecourt Hac Crew & Pilot of YHQ

My sons and I snuck up to them by crawling on our hands & knees. They where about 150 yards away.

Helicopter YHQ
Helicopter YHQ coming in for a landing to day base at the tower.