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  • JOY A COLLURA

3 - Was the June 26,1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the incomplete lessons learned on June 30, 201-B


Authors: Douglas Fir, Joy A Collura, and other contributing authors

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What follows is from (Figure 32. above) and all other Perryville Crew and CREP LaTour MOIs that follow (below) likely paraphrasing unless in quotes (" "). This one is relatively disturbing compared to what you have read thus far. Fairly graphic details and descriptions of the Perryville Crew, apparently without a designated Lookout to see and then report on the ensuing fire weather and fire behavior, attempting escape from an aggressive flaming fronts, multiple fire shelter deployment scenes, condition of WFs and fire shelters as they deployed into and then emerged from fire shelters (and what was left of their shelters), hiked out wearing shelters as capes, LaTour encouraging them to stay focused on getting out of there, to ignore the tragedy around them and what they would hike through and what they were and would be witnessing, "told help was on the way," and repeated radio calls to notify of deployments and for help.

Figure 33. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation.MOI Page 29- Perryville CREP Dave LaTour - Page 6 of 7 -Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


What follows is from (Figure 32. above) likely paraphrasing unless in quotes (" "). "He remembers telling [CREP] Terra to go get water for crew which was delivered by ATV. ... Remember some radio talk about 1/2 hour before fire about it bumping Fuller Canyon, which is West of them." Talks about is wildland fire training and experience and working for Rural Metro under contract with AZ State Forestry. The ongoing discussion of his training and experience continues in Figure 33 (below).


Figure 34. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. MOI Page 30 - Perryville CREP Dave LaTour Page 7 of 7 -Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files

Figure 35. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. MOI Page 30 - Perryville WF Don Love -Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


What follows is from (Figure 35. above) MOI of Perryville Asst. Squad Boss Don Love likely paraphrasing unless in quotes (" "). He felt that the fire shelters worked. Shortly after the Crew gathered for drinking water, a "Navajo Scout yelled to 'get out'" so all of the Crew began running down the dozer road toward the Control Road. "Fire had crowned over the dozer line and split the Crew" with half running up and half running toward the Control Road. LaTour gave the order to deploy shelters and then notified supervisors. Recalls LaTour comments to stay calm as a fire front hit them. He heard screaming.


What follows is from (Figure 36. above) MOI of Perryville Asst. Squad Boss Don Love likely paraphrasing unless in quotes (" "). Perryville Crewmembers yelling and screaming during "10-15 minutes of intense heat. Saw flames though the pin holes in his fire shelter. Once out of the shelters LaTour directed them to wrap it around them and move down the canyon toward the Control Road. Came to [Bachman] who had her hand behind her back as if she was trying to get her shelter, the Denny and Chacon. Chacon was [lying] on Denny. Continued and ran into Hoke who was in his shelter. Hoke went with them. Continued and met Ellis coming up the canyon. He had serious burns. Shelter was hanging down from his head. He turned around and continued with them. Ellis said he was dead. He went toward a hose and rolled off into a ditch [Walk More creek bed]. Continued onto the Control Road where several of them dropped there fire shelters.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 (KJV)


Figure 36. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. MOI Page 31- Perryville WF Don Love Page Two-Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


Consider now Alpine Supt. Mattingly's MOI (Figures 37 & 38. below) noting the fire weather warning felt by others in several locations and Perryville radio communication issues: "Rain drops recorded at 1310. Dead calm for 5-10 min just before blow-up. Erratic (speed and direction) winds 1230-1400. ... 1400 - note of gusty winds 5 - 10 sec gusts. The handline around the [Corner House] helped give them direction to the Safety Zone. ... Programmed the Perryville radio to match his. OK - but not all the time. Tried to contact them - no answer. ... walking up the trail behind Gleason and Linse. [Perryville] Hatch came out of the smoke at 1433 (according to Mattingly's fast watch." (emphasis added)

Figure 37. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. Page 1 of 2. MOI Page 32 - Alpine HS Supt. Jim Mattingly - Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


Consider the second half of Alpine Supt. Mattingly's MOI dealing with Hatch burn victim, intense and threatening fire behavior in Figure 38. (below). "Requested burn blankets. ... Fire behind them - all around. ... Went about 120 feet to the corner of the line ... looked then the fire really started to cook. They got to safety. Helispot and Medivac completed. The fire kept coming. Not a wall of flames. Finger runs. ... Dale Ashby was the original Div [Group] Sup ... 1000 - Engine Captains radioed in - "we won't stay during the burning show without [fire] shelters." At least 40 people were up there without [fire] shelters. They seemed more concerned with saving structures. 1300 - 1330 the spot really went. They fought the spot inside the burn. ... 1350-1400 major wind gusts. Moved back to improve line." (emphasis added)


By The Grace of God, more WFs and FFs were not burned or injured or killed that day!


Figure 38. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. Page 2 of 2. MOI Page 33 - Alpine HS Supt. Jim Mattingly Page Two-Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files



Figure 39. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. MOI Page 34 - FBAN Ron Melcher -Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


Around 1100 FBANs Melcher and Farnsworth received NWS forecast of thunderstorms, transcribed them into the June 26, 1990, IAP, however, never notified line personnel that "thunderstorms were developing in the area. ... statement by Craig Ellis, Fire WX Forecaster, Phoenix all included in the witness statements and document files."


Figure 40. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. MOI Page 35 FBAN Ron Melcher page Two - Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


MOI of FBAN Melcher in Figure 40. (above) "0630 ... winds were calm. The fire was cooking under an inversion. ... 1300 ... a convection column was building. 1315 Gusty winds in camp - like from a thunderhead, 5-6 drops of rain. Heard there was a spot over the Control Road."


MOI of FBAN Melcher continued in Figure 41. (below) - "Called [OPS] Cooke - suggested that they evacuate more homes. ... At the base of Walk Moore Canyon found 2 people walking with their shelters. One had no hardhat on - held the shelter tightly around his face, Donald Love and Greg Hoke. Loaded them into the pickup. Ran into a NW Fire Dept. truck which had EMTs. Transferred the people to them. Went back toward Walk Moore and found two more people. David LaTour and Donnie Davenport. One said 'there's four dead guys up there.' ... LaTour had all of his equipment on."

Figure 41. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. MOI Page 36 FBAN Ron Melcher page Three -Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


MOI of Ron Melcher and Mark Zumwalt (second-hand) in Figure (below) - "This is second-hand information. Ron Melcher talked to Mark Zumwalt, Div / Sup on The Rim on 6/26. (Ron talked to Mark, then Ron called [Investigator - Interviewer] Pat [Andrews]. Conducting a burnout on the top of the Rim by the 300 Road. They were staying just ahead of the movement of the main fire. The smoke was sucking down off The Rim. ... He was in the center of Section 21. There was a lot of heat in Section 28. The smoke from Section 21 was being sucked into Section 28. 15 minutes before Bonita [Estates] blew [up] the fire in Section 28 blew-up and ran into sections 33 & 34, down to the SE toward Ellison Creek Subdivision."


Figure 41a. (left) Dude Fire Incident map with Sections 21, 28 visible, Sections 33 & 34 are mostly hidden behind the legend. Source: Dude Fire Fatality Investigation Report


Figure 41b. (below) Tonto NF map with Sections 21, 28, 33 & 34 clearly visible . Source: USFS, Tonto NF, North Half


First off, you will need to enlarge these map images to view them. Either use some type of a magnifying glass or use Ctrl+ (plus sign) to enlarge the images, but that only goes so far. Then focus on Section 21 and Burnt Point (North-northeast of Bonita Creek Estates); it is split about 80% on top of The Rim, along the Forest Road (FR) 300 and FR 145 junction and about 20% below The Rim. Section 28 is due South of Section 21 and lies entirely below Burnt Point and The Rim.


DIVS Zumwalt's second-hand MOI contained within FBAN Melcher's MOI in Figure 42. (below) is a remarkable observation of the progression of fire behavior from subtle to overt, and the very powerful affect of "fire influencing or pulling fire" which then was the set-up for the down-canyon fire weather winds and aggressive to extreme fire behavior that ensued in Walk Moore Canyon.


The authors often refer to "aggressive" fire behavior more often than the over-used "extreme" fire behavior, which is somewhat addressed in the Tedim et al (2018) research paper below. Moreover, in the excerpt that follows - although undefined in the text - "overruns" may likely refer to or be synonymous with the more common empirical term actually used on the firelines, i.e. "burnover": "Fire behavior overwhelms capacity of control. Fire spreads unchecked, as suppression operations are either not attempted or ineffective. During suppression, there may be immediate consequences, such as witnessed on the Dude Fire: (i) Entrapments and fire overruns; (ii) Unplanned last moment evacuations; (iii) Entrapments with multiple fatalities and near misses; and (iv) Fatal fire overruns." (Table 2. page 9) (emphasis added) Indeed, these all occurred on the June 1990 Dude Fire, the June 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire, and likely numerous other wildland fire tragedies.


The overall daytime and the even more critical nighttime fire behavior contributed to an order of magnitude that was, for those of us on the firelines on June 25-26, 1990, - visually and experientially - "off-the-charts" - as they say and noted by many experienced WFs in their respective MOIs. Scientifically speaking, based on the MOIs and anecdotes of WFs, it is a permissible inference that there was exponential fire behavior that was likely two or three times in order of magnitude.


An Order of Magnitude is an exponential change of plus-or-minus 1 in the value of a quantity or unit. The term is generally used in conjunction with a power-of-10 scientific notation. In base 10, the most common numeration scheme worldwide, an increase of one order of magnitude is the same as multiplying a quantity by 10. An increase of two orders of magnitude is the equivalent of multiplying by 100, or 102.

Figure 41c. Order of Magnitude Snippet denoting Number, Nearest Power of Ten, and Order of Magnitude. Source: Shmoop. Intro. to Physics. Order of Magnitude

Tedim, F, et al (2018) Defining Extreme Wildfire Events: Difficulties, Challenges, and Impacts. International Association of Wildland Fire Journal, 1. ( https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/untangling-physics-firenadoes-drifting-embers-other-wildfire-phenomena-180971735/ )


Scott, J.H. (2006) Off the Richter: Magnitude and Intensity Scales for Wildland Fire. Systems for Environmental Management. Missoula, Montana ( http://pyrologix.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Scott_2006.pdf )


The Mogollon Rim and its influential Thermal Belt and Down-slope winds clearly falls within Watch Out No. 4 (Unfamiliar with local factors influencing weather and fire behavior)


See or revisit an idealized image of a thermal belt in Figure (6b - above):



Figure 42. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. MOI Page 37 FBAN Ron Melcher and DIVS Mark Zumwalt page Four - Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


Figure 43. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation.MOI Page 38 STLE Bob Scopa page Four -Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


STLE Bob Scopa's MOI (two parts) Figure 43. (above) and Figure 43c. (below) Some paraphrasing may occur otherwise quoted statements as such (" "). Follow the Scopa thread all the way through as there are several newly revealed key points brought out that are very informative.


"Scopa was the Engine STL (STLE) for the Strike Team [Five Engines with specified combinations of the same kind and type of resources, with common communications, and a leader] at Bonita Creek Subdivision and worked on structure protection for DIVS-Group Supervisor Ashby and DIVS Whitney. His radio communication was Mutual Aid (154.280) with the Perryville CREP LaTour, Crews, and Engines, but had no radio communication with DIVS Whitney after the IMT transition. Scopa received several radio transmissions regarding Perryville deployment but unaware of who they were from as they counted off the number 1 to 11. "Scopa had no communications with the Perryville Crew just prior to the announcement of the deployment." He assisted the Glendale FD Paramedics that relieved the Alpine EMTs as they treated burned Perryville WF Hatch in the Safety Zone."


The Alpine Hot Shots EMTs, Glendale FD paramedics, and STLE Scopa did some stellar work under very risky fire conditions that most definitely contributed to saving Perryville WF Hatch's life.


Figure 43.a (left) STLE Bob Scopa on June 26, 1990 .Dude Fire - Perryville Fire Crew Entrapment. Source. YouTube, WLF LLC


Figure 43b. (below) In my research this is all I could find for Bob Scopa and confirmed 7/25/20; same person yet legally Bobbie for 25 years now. Thank you Bobbie Source: Facebook

Consider now STLE Bob Scopa's MOI (two parts) Figure 43. (above) and Figure 43c. (below)


'The four Glendale Paramedics started an IV on Hatch in the Safety Zone and Scopa assisted them carry Hatch on a backboard to the medivac site as the fire continued to run on them. They questioned if they could continue to haul Hatch and still save themselves. They kept moving and finally reached the Safety Zone with Hatch.'


"Scopa felt that the the four Glendale Paramedics were worthy of special commendation for their actions." Unsure whether this was followed through.


Saturday, July 25, 2020 11:51 AM, Bobbie Scopa answered to the question above: "That's correct. I wrote them up and we all ended up getting many awards. It was more than just embarrassing. Six people died and we were getting awards for saving one. But I guess that's how it works."


I (JAC) am so proud of Bobbie Scopa and this reply below to the Dude Fire so we can archive this all to ONE document and ONE accession number one day to the Arizona State Archives Library.


May I welcome Bobbie Scopa's look back thirty plus years later on the Dude Fire - thank you Bobbie - a true honor as our read on:

Figure 43b. STL-E Scopa email recounting June 26, 1990, events in Walk Moore Canyon (July 25, 2020, 10:02 AM ) Source: Scopa, Collura


What follows is a Snippet from the third paragraph of Scopa's email statement in Figure 43b. (above) that is brand new, unrevealed evidence that it noteworthy and very significant with regard to the increasing fire behavior that afternoon as the result of what is referred to as a "DIRTY BURN." The goal in every firing operation is to burn at least the surface and understory fuels as completely as possible. And so, a "dirty burn" means that it was partially burned, and therefore has significant potential for a threatening reburn when the fire weather conditions are optimum, as they were that day. See also Figure 43c. (below) for "dirty burn" image.

This excerpt from the Ojo de Los Casos Wildfire Inciweb news article on the (NM Cibola NF - July 11, 2020) titled "How a 'dirty burn' affects wildfire containment percentage" explains it rather well: "This fire is made up of many patches of burned and unburned vegetation. In cases such as this, lingering heat can hide within unburned fuels close to the ground. This heat may not be recognized until weather and fuel conditions are just right for ignition. Once ignited, these areas could burn hot and fast. Firefighters call this a 'dirty' or 'scabby' burn." (emphasis added) This was also noted in another Inciweb article on the Williams Flat Fire (WA - Colville BIA - August 21, 2019). "In fire terms, areas of the Williams Flats Fire had a dirty burn - an area where there is still standing, half-burned fuel susceptible to reburning." (emphasis added)

Figure 43c. Photo showing incomplete combustion of fuel bed, i.e."dirty burn" Source: Inciweb.gov


As you read Scopa's email excerpt directly below from Figure 43., note that this is very significant regarding what intense, rapid fire behavior eventually occurred in Walk Moore Canyon on the afternoon of June 26, 1990, as noticed and as recounted in Scopa' email below:


"Around mid-afternoon, Perryville began getting spots around their line and requested my assistance. ... I was surprised and concerned by what I saw. The earlier burnout that was done during the night did not consume the fuel. It mostly just scorched and dried out the turbinella oak leaves and continued to creep around in the duff. It was obvious to me that the Perryville Crew was in a dangerous situation. The fuel loading was heavy and pre-heated and dried out from the earlier burn out operation. I communicated this with [OPS] and then directed my engine crews to extend a hoselay down Walkmore (sic) Canyon to begin assisting the Perryville crew. Shortly after my engine crews began working on the new hose lay is when the blow up occurred." (emphasis added)


Figure 43d. Snippet of third paragraph of STL-E Scopa email (above) recounting June 26, 1990, "dirty burn" observations and concern regarding fire behavior and safety hazard potential in Walk Moore Canyon Source: Scopa, Collura


It is noteworthy as well that this was the TNF PRD Type 3 Engine (Model 70) discussed in Engine Boss Tiffany's MOI in Figures 51-51 (below) that would provide the means of escape for several of the Navajo Scouts and Perryville Crewmembers attempting to flee the ensuing danger in Walk Moore Canyon during the blow-up and the life threatening, advancing fire front.



Figure 43c. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. MOI Page 39 STLE Bob Scopa page Four -Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


What follows in Figure 44. and Figure 45. (below) are two pages of fairly articulate, detailed, neatly typed, legible observations and conclusions (statement format) of the Navajo Scouts Crew Boss Lois Sorrel. His statement is WELL WORTH READING. It covers in quite some detail - fire weather, fire behavior, human factors, and the Ten Standard Fire Orders and Watch Out Situations during the critical period of time between 1315 and 1430.


Once again, it is WELL WORTH READING!


Figure 44. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. Detailed typed Statement - Page 40 Navajo Scouts Crew Boss WF Louis Sorrel page Four -Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30 ,2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files



Figure 45. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. Detailed typed Statement - Page 41 Navajo Scouts Crew Boss Louis Sorrel page Four - Missing Page Two From"Part 2 - Was the June 26,1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


Figure 46. Dude Fire Fatalities Investigation. MOI Page 42 Mark Spann, Ronald Regan, respectively Tonto and Coconino NF Radio Techs, page Four - Missing Page Two From "Part 2 - Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?" ) Source: Anonymous Source from Joy's Records Files


Some paraphrasing may take place otherwise statements in quotes. A communication plan and repeater set-up was already in place by the Type 2 IMT by the time these Communications Personnel arrived on the fire.


"Everyone was still on the Tonto [NF] Net on the 26th. There was lack of direction on the [fire]line, Groups were agreeing among themselves on the frequencies they would use. Everyone was complaining about not being able to talk to anyone. The initial [communication] setup had problems. Someone called Communications (at the base Camp) for a Medivac, but no one responded because they were not monitoring the freq[uency]. Another BIFC Comm Unit arrived and Fred Buhl (Type I Comm Unit Leader) has straightened things out."


What a communications cluster f**k! There were some very serious communications problems occurring from the start and all throughout the critical burnover, deployment, and fatalities periods. The "C" prong of LCES - Communications - is almost always mentioned in every wildland fire fatality investigation report. The feckless FLAs, RLAs,