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Monday, July 16, 2012

Update: Charlotte Fire, Pocatello, Idaho

Officials: Destructive Idaho fire was human-caused

Authorities in eastern Idaho say a fire that destroyed 66 homes in Pocatello last month was likely human-caused and accidental.

Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen released those conclusions Monday as authorities wrapped up their investigation into the Charlotte Fire.

Nielsen says investigators believe the fire was manmade. An exact cause has yet to be determined, but investigators have ruled out fireworks and for now are closing the case.

Nielsen says there's no evidence to suggest criminal intent was behind the blaze.

A team of 17 investigators from local, state and federal agencies collaborated to answer questions about the fire that started June 28 and spread quickly through dry grass and brush. More than 1,000 people were evacuated from nearby Pocatello neighborhoods.

Idaho State University President Arthur C. Vailas has announced ISU has formed the ISU Charlotte Fire Task Force to continue offering support to members of the ISU community and greater Pocatello community affected by the Charlotte Fire.

Charlotte Fire Task Force Information

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Charlotte Fire, Pocatello, ID – June, 2012

The 'Charlotte' fire reportedly started in the Charlotte Road area of Mink Creek about 2:30pm on June 28, 2012 and spread very quickly, fueled by bone dry grass and junipers; driven by wind gusts in the 90 degree heat of the afternoon.

This fire was at the Southeast end of Pocatello in the Mink Creek and Gibson Jack Canyon area.

The area was a tinderbox with 2-3 months of dry wind and no moisture.

There were 66 homes lost in the flames and 29 outbuildings.

Personal Video Coverage on YouTube

In addition to numerous local, city and county resources, the Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire Center EIIFC responded to assist the county by sending seven heavy engines, one air attack, four single-engine air tankers, two heavy air tankers, one lead plane, one type II helicopter and two bulldozers.

A rough estimate on the cost of damage to homes is $7.6 million USD. Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire Center claims an estimated 1,038 acres burned. More than 1,000 people were evacuated from the Mink Creek, Johnny Creek and Gibson Jack areas.

The lack of rain, high temperatures and wind have placed so many areas in Idaho, Utah and Colorado on “Red Flag” status for wildfires. This is an unusually early start to what promises to be a long fire season.

I took some photos of the area when I was in Pocatello on today. The devastation is heartbreaking and the sense of loss was overwhelming.

The Red Cross is accepting monetary donations to do things from providing clothes to replacing eyeglasses, even providing rent for someone who needs it. It has also brought in medical and mental health professionals to help. The Red Cross has said it will keep all donation local as long as a restrictive note is made on the check.

You can get funds to the Red Cross in one of the following ways:

• Send a check to the Boise office (146 South Cole, 83709).

• Give a check to Liz Jordan at the Red Cross Blood office in the Pine Ridge Mall, which
she will forward to Boise.

• Donate online at There is nowhere online to specify that the gift be
used locally, but you can direct it to the Idaho Chapter or to Disaster Relief.

• Give online through the United Way of Southeastern Idaho (—we’ll ensure
that 100 percent of the funds go directly to the Red Cross for local victims’ relief.
Select the option to "add special instructions to the seller” and tell us the funds are
for Red Cross’s local fire relief efforts.

• Send a check to United Way (PO Box 911, Pocatello 83204) and tell it to send the funds
to Red Cross for Pocatello fire relief.

In addition to money, the Red Cross is also accepting commercially prepared food. The organization is accepting clothing through Deseret Industries in Pocatello at 580 Roosevelt Ave.

The organization is helping provide a help line for victims at (208) 234-6201.

Businesses can help the Red Cross through the Pocatello Businesses Care! organization. A Facebook page is set up for that purpose at

You can also donate to the Red Cross at Lowe's in Pocatello. You can choose to donate there, regardless of if you buy anything.

More information on how to help:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Wintering Over Vegetables

Helped a faculty member print some photos today showing an excellent idea for wintering over carrots, beets and onions.

They are taking everything out of their hand-made 'cellar' to cook into a meal and present the idea to several students. The author has written a book on Root Cellering as well.

This project was started last fall when the students built the 'cellar'.

Once the crated vegetables were in place they covered them with a layer of plywood and heavy styrofoam (with rocks on top to keep it from blowing away). Throughout the winter it was very easy to remove the rocks, lift the styrofoam and plywood to get to fresh vegetables as needed.

Here are the pictures taken this spring of the styrofoam on top, the layer of plywood, and the goodies underneath:

Root Cellering - Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables

Easter or Christmas?

Going into a holiday weekend…supposed to be Easter….but looking like Christmas!!!

This morning, going in to work.

At work around 7:30am.

I have been greeting the students with 'Happy Holidays' this morning!! :)
Around 9:30 the snow is piling up on the tables outside.

At noon, I made an attempt to go for a walk and the snow had almost stopped. As I got several blocks away, it started coming down again in big flakes and I was pretty wet by the time I got back to my desk.

Great start to Happy Easter weekend!