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Author Topic: Firefighters Killed  (Read 4458 times)

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Offline Gordon

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Firefighters Killed
« on: July 11, 2001, 08:30:16 PM »
Once again the season is here for wildfires. So remember to be extra careful in the woods when smoking, or running a saw. Most importantly CAMPFIRES.


Here is a link to the full story.http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/fire/30mile/index.html

Here is part of the story. Very sad.

The Thirty Mile Fire was first discovered during the evening of July 9. An unattended camp fire is the suspected cause. During the afternoon of July 11, 2001, high winds developed causing the Thirty Mile Fire in the Chewuch River Valley, north of Winthrop, WA to blow up and grow from approximately 5 acres to over 2500 acres within 2 ˝ hours.

21 firefighters and 2 civilians were entrapped in a narrow canyon of the Chewuch River Valley.

Fires shelters were deployed in an area surrounded by fire on all sides. Four firefighters were killed and another four firefighters and 2 civilians were injured. Most of the injured are either in satisfactory condition or have been treated and released with one exception. One firefighter was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA and is listed as serious and stable.

“This is a great tragedy and loss that is felt by all firefighters and agency employees everywhere,” said Sonny J. O’Neal Forest Service Supervisor of the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests. “Firefighters are a family and any time a firefighter is killed, grief is felt by all.”

A national investigation team will visit the site today to determine the cause of the tragedy and to look for lessons that can improve firefighter safety everywhere.

A national Type I incident management team is assembling today to assume responsibility for suppression of the Thirty Mile Fire.

Families of firefighters killed and injured have been notified. All firefighters entrapped were members of a combined crew from the Naches Ranger District and the Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth Ranger District of the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests.

Those killed include Tom L. Craven, 30, Ellensburg, WA; Karen L. Fitzpatrick, 18, Yakima, WA; Devin A. Weaver, 21, Yakima, WA; and Jessica L. Johnson, 19, Yakima, WA.

Those injured are: Jason W. Emhoff, 21, Yakima, WA, who was transported to Harborview Medical Center and is currently listed as serious and stable; Thomas R. Taylor, 31, Leavenworth, WA, to be released from Brewster Hospital this morning; Scott Sherzinger, 24, Selah, WA treated and released; and Rebecca Welch, 22, Naches, WA, treated and released.

Because of the remoteness of the entrapment site, and the need for an investigation, it will not be possible to recover the bodies until today.

Today, the Thirty Mile Fire is being monitored as a strategy is being developed for its suppression.

The exact size will not be known until mapping is completed. The new incident management team will determine numbers of firefighters and types of equipment needed to suppress the fire.

Please be extra careful out there!
Gordon


Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2001, 06:10:08 PM »
Very sad for such dedicated young people on a summer job assignment.

The 2 civilian backpackers were saved by one of the female firefighters who took them into her fire shelter which is only room for one. She was burned but survived as the two backpackers were saved due to her quick act of heroism.
~Ron

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2001, 07:42:20 PM »
A Huron-Manistee National Forests fire detection plane crashed on Saturday during a fire detection flight. The plan was demolished, but the pilot and observer survived with minor injuries to both. Very lucky,if you saw the aircraft.

I haven't heard the details of the crash yet though I know the aerial observer well. He's a wildlife biologist and his wife use to work for me. He's going to think for awhile before flying again.

~Ron

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2001, 06:57:59 PM »
The cause was a broken throttle linkage on the amphibian Cessna aircraft. Plane went down quite fast due to pontoon drag. 100' sooner and they would have hit the side of a hill instead of the farm field.

They were very lucky to have walked away.

~Ron

Offline Gordon

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2001, 03:07:40 PM »
Thanks for the update Ron. Any idea what caused the linkage to break?

Not just lucky to walk away--VERY lucky to be able to walk away from a plane crash.

Gordon

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2001, 05:43:20 PM »
The Plane had recent inspection and all passed as ok. FAA said that it was just one of those things and was an unusual happening since throttle linkages usually don't break. Forest Service contract aircraft and pilots are the most heavily inspected and qualified with rigid flying restrictions so an unusual happening.

I was in the woods last Saturday on a bear study project with Chris the aerial observer and wildlife biologist in the crash. He was just back to work with 3 broken ribs, broken nose, bruises, and sore. He was walking pretty slow but back to work, and still waiting for his broken glasses to be replaced through bureaucratic red tape since they were his personal glasses.

The pilot had a severe head cut and other cuts and bruises, but ok.
~Ron

Offline Frank_Pender

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2002, 04:16:35 AM »
It is really toughwhen they have been one of your students.  I lost one of mine a few years ago.  She was one of the jumpers in the King Mt. fire out of Colorado.  She had always wanted to be a smoke jumper.  What a loss in these situations for everyone. I gues I just had to get it off my chest.  This relly the first time I have even really talked about the incident with Terri and the others who gave their lives for America's Forests.  It is strange how we sometimes recall or open up when a thought or phrase becomes the stimulus.  I reckon the title of the thread caught my memory bank lock and the combination simply clicked.  I got to quit this, as i am having trouble seeing the key and ther screen to say much more. :'(
Frank Pender

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2002, 08:11:16 AM »
Frank,
I know how you feel. They were like family to us Forest Service people. One of the jumpers lost in the Storm King Mountain fire was from back here at L'anse, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula.

Really sad for the number lost from Oregon. These were special people. I wore a T-shirt with their names on it for a long time.
~Ron

Offline Gordon

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2002, 12:38:43 PM »
I'm truely sorry to hear about that loss Frank. Did that post to help make people aware of the possible problems a small camp fire can start. Maybe with the addition of your post, that hits real close to home ,,, you might just save a live. By making people more aware of thier actions.

My prayers are out to you and their famlies
Gordon

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2002, 06:14:30 PM »
Forest Service Reassigns Firefighters After Administrative Review

The USDA Forest Service has reassigned nine firefighters and commanders from active fire duty 10 months after they violated safety guidelines during last summer's fatal Thirty Mile Fire in the Cascade Mountains.

The reassignments were made after the Forest Service completed an administrative review of the fire. The agency concluded last year that fire managers failed to follow basic safety rules and ignored numerous danger signs. Four firefighters died in the fire.

~Ron

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2002, 06:39:49 PM »
   Got any specifics or a webref for details? Inquiring minds want to know. More can be learned in terms of prevention by analysis of such incidents. We narrowly escaped a drought here in Maine. I had been wondering if the fire of '02 was going to equal the fire of '47. I remember the danger signs from wildfire training camp, but it's all theory until you do have an incident.   lw
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2002, 08:11:13 PM »
See the first post above by Gordon for some info.
~Ron

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2002, 06:50:40 PM »
   That link; a) was created/posted in '01, b) is no longer active, and c) would not contain the outcome analysis impled by the term 'administrative review'. A fact-finding and conclusive analysis is likely to be a good learning/teaching tool. Hindsight being so much better... I read the initial link immediately it was posted. I was just after any update in terms of prevention.   lw
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Offline swampwhiteoak

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2002, 10:21:24 PM »
New Link
http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/fire_new/safety/investigations/30mile/index.html

The accident investigation final report came out in 10/01.  Prevention plans and the OSHA investigation followed.

Anyone that is "red-carded" (meaning qualified to fight fires on a federal level) is required to attend a refresher training every year.  At that time any fatalities from the previous year are discussed in terms of what went wrong, what could have been done to prevent it, ect.  We usually get a much less PC version of what happened than is written in the final report.

In my opinion parts of the OSHA report are laughable and have the fingerprints of bureaucrats on a witch hunt, but I digress.

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2002, 01:12:03 PM »
   Thanks. That looks like what I was after.

  Back in about 97 or 98 I missed qualifying for the red card by 1 pulsebeat, literally. The test is age linked. I woulda been ok if I'da been a leetle younger.. Now it's in the catgory of 'In what lifetime would I have TIME for that?!' So we're just working on the woodland here in terms of trails and access to water. I can't stand the local FD politics now, so I'm just on resQ. But wildfire is always an issue when you live in the woods. :o   lw
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2002, 06:26:31 PM »
Thanks Swamp. That's the link wanted for the Fire Investigation Report.

The older one gets, the harder it is to get or stay Red Carded for fireline duty. It seems that lack of experience is getting to be more of a problem than physical fitness. however.
~Ron

Offline swampwhiteoak

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2002, 11:27:12 AM »
I would imagine that it gets frustrating for someone like yourself to remain qualified.  Agency folks like myself have the advantage of being able to get training and qualifications as part of our job.  Couple those difficulties with having to pack up and leave at a moments notice and I can see why a consulting forester can't logistically do it.  Too bad considering you probably have years of experience in a lot of different fire related areas.

Experience is definitely a problem area for us.  We've got plenty of able bodied firefighters but few crew bosses.  It keeps us from sending more crews out of state.

Anyone that's interested in the current wildfire status nationwide can click this link (PDF file updated daily)
http://www.nifc.gov/news/sitreprt.pdf
As of today:  National Prepardness level 4 (5 is the highest)
Apparently all of Colorado is on fire.  Tom's area continues to burn (currently 125,000 acres and nearly 5 million spent)

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2002, 06:46:37 PM »
   That vision is very precise and all too clear. What a hell on earth. And that is a natural enemy (or a natural phenomenon- but we cannot help but see it as an enemy). There is no ethical hesitation in fighting fire. And still it is hell on earth.

  The one that is the weirdest is the one in Hawaii. Fire AND lava..talk about being between the devil and the deep blue sea!

  Prevention, control, use to our advantage. These are the total opposite.

   Those slopes were made for burning. And yet if you lay a heavy enough drought on the land, any state can go up like a torch. We were headed for it here in Maine til the rains came. We are due for another inch this week, and my garden is ready.

  But I wish I could send some to Colorado.        
                  lw



L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Firefighters Killed
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2002, 07:33:47 PM »
It looks like a long hard season starting for trained firefighters. Glenwood Springs, Colorado also had the killing "Storm King Mountain Fire" a few years back.
~Ron


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