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April 2024 Journal-2

April 4:








skeeters are here:

from my property- I do readings--which is appx 6 miles away--

April 5:




current cloud coverage:



 keep a ≥25-50-foot buffer along the residential area and right of way roads


When I see:  keep a ≥25-50-foot buffer along the residential area and right of way roads

let me show you what that looks like:






Ozone was elevated yesterday

FJS texted me this 2016 video:

TRANSCRIPTS:

Iremember

1:06 / 1:07:41

The Butte Fire Staff Ride

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Over 30 years after the entrapment and shelter deployments on the Butte Fire, a group of those who were there went back to that fireground with a group of students to walk through the events and their lessons learned on that day. After the site visit, the entire group discussed the experience, including their takeaways to carry forward. The Butte Fire entrapment occurred on the Salmon-Challis National Forest, Idaho, on August 29, 1985. For more information, please visit: https://lessons.wildfire.gov/incident...

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spooky,tense,dark,suspense,horror,chilling,gripping,flowing

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William L. Newman (ASCAP) 100

STRIKE AUDIO LIBRARY

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Transcript

0:01

[Music]

0:06

[Music]

0:17

[Music]

0:25

[Music]

0:42

[Music] while we were talking we we heard this

0:49

jet flying overhead and we we both paused to let the jet go by so we could

0:54

hear each other speak and we both kind of at the same time we both kind of got that ocean

1:01

moment you know that oh realization that not a jet that's a

1:06

fire we had worked on that fire for three or four days three or four shifts we had been pushed into safety zones I

1:14

think every single day probably got some complacency uh

1:20

because of that you know well here we are again in a safety zone it's going to be okay it's going to be all right and

1:25

this is a really damn big safety zone but

1:30

I remember vividly when that fire hit the the the edge of the the timber there on

1:38

the cat line um I remember there was some people in shelters already and uh

1:44

it was it was just fire probably three two 300 ft tall as far as I could see

1:50

down each direction of the cat line and it was pretty obvious at that point no

1:56

this ain't going to be good enough wind was strong enough that it started pull pulling Lodge pole across

2:03

that line I put my Dozer blade down and was actually starting to push that stuff

2:09

out of my way rather than crawling over it and by that time the fire was on top of me I had reached down and pulled a

2:15

Levi Jacket that I had stuck uh in a compartment beside me I'd pull that up

2:21

over the back of my my neck and hard hat cuz the back of my neck and my ears was really starting to burn I was getting

2:27

Embers and and hot coals and stuff in the seat of the Dozer I uh reached down and grabbed my

2:35

fire shelter because this was a a life-changing moment for me that fire

2:41

sheler up until that point I had had zero instruction on fire

2:48

shelers uh we used them for pillows padding uh you know they were called

2:54

turkey baked bags all kinds of jokes that had gone around uh you you got one

2:59

one issued to you and you threw it over here on this side of your Dozer and that's where it stayed knew nothing

3:06

about it I did know that there was some instructions if you opened it up there was some instructions and so I thought

3:12

Now's the Time I'd better read it was a little difficult because the cat's climbing over this stuff and uh had

3:20

gloves on opened up the pouch pull the instructions out and go to open them up and just as I focus on it the wind rips

3:28

them out of my hand but not before I see that it is written in

3:33

Spanish we made numerous calls to Branch to divisions and every time we changed

3:41

frequencies and try to tack Channel a a command Channel a a branch channel the

3:49

traffic was tremendous there there was no way to break in I tried to break in a

3:54

time or two but it was interrupting critical communication saying move to

4:00

the safety zones deploy shelters that kind of communication was taking place

4:05

which was far more appropriate than me trying to warn him at that point because

4:11

it was obvious that something incredibly lifethreatening was

4:17

happening I carried this fire with me my entire career I think it actually made

4:23

me a better firefighter certainly a better leader uh in terms of making sure that I was taking care of my firefighter

4:29

Fighters um I never wanted to put my firefighters in a position where they were going to be burned over it did

4:36

leave me with a sense of deep mistrust of overhead teams and I never trusted a

4:41

lot of the information that I was getting in those morning briefings until we had the chance to actually go out on

4:47

the line talk with the division talk with the adjoining forces talk with the people that have been out there to get a

4:53

good sense for what was really happening out here before I'd feel comfortable

4:58

with the assignment we forgiv for any given day that's something that that I it kept me and my crew out of trouble

5:05

for 22 years and uh so this was a pivotal fire in my fire fighting career

5:12

for sure I do not have animosity for anyone

5:18

on the overhead team during that fire uh you know what we make decisions based on

5:24

the information that we have at the time and 2020 hindsight we can always change

5:30

that uh I think those folks made the decision B best they could and uh you

5:36

know by the grace of God no one got killed if I was on those Crews and had

5:42

been looking at thinking working in here and okay this is where I need to go if things go

5:49

bad I mean I would have thought realizing that my fire shelter

5:55

is only good for radiant heating I'm going to be exposed to some convective Heating I'm at the top of a ridge or

6:01

near the top of a ridge lots of winds to me it's amazing I mean it's a

6:07

it's uh we should have had a m a massacre here should have been 150 people

6:15

killed on the afternoon of August 29th 1985 the but fire in Central Idaho makes

6:22

a high intensity Crown Run This 600t Tall fast moving wall of superheated gas

6:29

gas and Flame is still discussed today a total of 118 persons including

6:36

hand Crews fallers Dozer operators and overhead are overrun by the

6:43

fire 73 folks are chased into safety and deployment areas most must deploy their

6:50

shelters where they'll stay for almost 2 hours 30 years later the fire managers

6:57

on the salmon chalice National for realize that there are still many lessons for all of us to learn from this

7:04

event a staff ride is planned in June of

7:10

2016 many of the folks who had been on the beire and survived that entrapment

7:16

returned to participate in the 3-day but fire staff ride to somebody the intent

7:22

of this video is to share their stories explore the key lessons discussed during

7:27

the staff ride and point to what the next step should be for all of

7:38

us I went on my first fire in 1967 and uh so by the time I get to 1985

7:48

and I come to this fire in my career I had never one time ever dealt with an

7:54

indirect uh approach a strategy or a tactic I knew about it I mean it's all

8:00

part of basic training but I had never used it never been on a fire to

8:06

experience being indirect to a large

8:11

fire and this whole concept of being indirect and having to construct a place

8:17

to be safe uh was all brand new to me standing here

8:23

today um August 29th 1985 fire is three miles down that

8:31

drainage my concept of being safe then as was everybody

8:37

else was I'm plenty safe and as Roy said the other day those were safety zones until

8:43

you had to deploy your shelter and and that uh that's where

8:50

this departure about being a practitioner uh in my mind uh and really

8:56

understanding the environment that you're in is so critical

9:02

so 8:29 briefing 05:30 in the morning

9:08

and the operation section chief Bill Williams is describing uh the issues that they were

9:13

having in owl cck uh that was driving them to go and use an indirect strategy

9:22

and an indirect tactic what I knew after having completed this line uh the deployment

9:29

site had to be put in so that was going to be one of my priorities I also found out I inherited

9:36

everything below drop 28 down towards Owl Creek uh came up uh started walking

9:43

the division again came up through here I really had

9:48

no concerns down here uh located this because it was good uh we had three we

9:55

had three slopes that came to the ridge um and down here it's still an

10:01

opposing slope uh but the only thing that distinguished it above anything

10:06

else was to me it occurred to be on a slighter uh the ridge was a little more bened St there which gave a little bit

10:14

more topographic relief uh from the southwest those were the only reasons

10:20

that I looked at those and flagged them and I had the d8s build them I went on

10:26

down to drop point 29 I met with the division Fox Trot supervisor we talked

10:31

about the burnout and how we would coordinate between ourselves um coming off of here the

10:38

upper deployment site down into the saddle and they down into the saddle

10:44

from Hill 810 which is right here we split up and right about then I

10:50

got a call from the branch director that said uh Jim we're sending you two more crews with overhead and your division

10:58

just went from drop point 29 up to Hill 810 in one day I more than doubled my

11:05

original division to their credit they give me more resources but uh in actuality you

11:13

look back on that um and I I can't imagine why I would be

11:19

so willing to accept so much complexity with so many people um which following

11:27

the equal sign after the burn over is really what has the most profound

11:33

impact I met their Strike team leader on the road briefed him told him what I would like he went ahead to get it

11:40

started I made it back walked from 29 back to 28 I met with uh Fred Sheffer

11:47

and Roy Hall we talked um they told me what their plan was uh they were going

11:53

to camp out uh up here and uh when it came time to do the burnout they would

12:00

redeploy the crew down there we talked about how to burn it out I wanted to start at the very lowest and burn UPS

12:07

slope uh I wanted to burn it just as fast as you could uh if it didn't take

12:12

don't worry about it just move on uh and let's get fire along that line somehow and then get back up

12:19

here I was really concerned for them because they were on Open Line there was

12:24

nothing nothing down there the only anchor they had uh was this clearcut the

12:30

only place they could go to be safe was that clearcut and that was my line of

12:36

thinking uh because when I began to inquire after leaving there and came up

12:41

here uh and Jack eberts and I talked which is another good point uh making decisions and thinking things out on

12:48

your own is Never As Good as having somebody to talk to uh and bounce things

12:53

off of and talking with Jack we could see the everything about the atmosphere had changed

12:59

uh it was um uh the air was still uh it was rapidly filling up with smoke it was

13:06

gray smoke uh it smelled like uh stepping outside the house on a cool

13:12

fall morning smelling all the the wood burning stoves in town um I called my

13:18

Branch director um and this was midaf afternoon uh and to see where fires were

13:25

and what was going on and could they do a flyby because we we were a little concerned with all the

13:31

smoke that's when I was informed about the burnout in alri um that's when and I

13:37

also heard that uh he would get back to me as soon as he could break in on the radio chatter because they were doing

13:42

that that hella torch burnout and it didn't take that long five or six minutes and he returned my call and said

13:49

Air Attack assures me all fires are several air miles away from you so I

13:54

mean that is a reassuring thing to hear uh I can't see it um nothing really

14:00

changed it still felt like everything was closing in so Jack said I'm going to

14:06

drop off uh Tin Cup and see because of this Old Road he said I'm going to pick

14:11

that up and see if I can't find a vantage point down here and I said okay I'm going to walk up the Ridge and I I

14:18

walked up to uh Tin Cup Hill and then I could hear Jack talking

14:24

to the branch director asking uh Branch what he was looking at at and it didn't

14:30

jive with what uh Jack was now looking at a very distinct

14:36

column and it was Jack's perspective was between us and Al CRI and it was as it

14:44

turns out it was the spotf fires uh down here in Wallace Creek so uh when he

14:50

relayed that to me uh saying I think I'm looking at something different that's when I uh ordered the cruise up from

14:58

here to to come back up uh to the first deployment site the plan was to gather

15:04

them up and then move them as a group and then uh domino effect the first

15:09

group on to the clearcut uh things uh went very quickly

15:16

then uh I was still up here coming down the ridge when I could hear that what

15:21

was described as a a a low-flying jet that very shrill uh it's air sucking in the

15:30

fire uh the air began to clear out and I could look down to the first

15:37

Ridge that separated the East Fork of Wallis criek from ow criek and I could see fire coming up over that Ridge uh

15:44

and it it appeared to me uh Flames about six 600 feet high I that was my estimate

15:51

what they were actually I don't have a clue I hurried on down uh got back to

15:58

the upper uh deployment site just as we started picking up spotf fires in the

16:03

unburned fuel where we had just been doing all the orchard work um and again

16:09

as I told the last group I don't have a clue why why I said pull shelters and prepare

16:16

to deploy because I had never done it I didn't even know what a fire shelter looked

16:22

like I carried it cuz I was told I was supposed to I had spent all my career up

16:28

until that day doing direct attack um we always knew where to go to be safe we

16:34

always went there to be safe uh so whatever it was

16:42

uh I said it and everybody pulled their fire shelters we started started to get used to them uh I

16:50

didn't even know what to expect I was squeezing it trying to get it loose so I could open it up and that's

16:56

when the first wind uh you feel is the

17:01

indraft when you begin to feel the wind uh coming back against you from the

17:07

fires side U the front of that fire is uh dangerously close we barely had time

17:16

in many cases to open the shelters and get in them before we got hit with fire I notified the the shot

17:24

Crews uh in the clearcut what we were doing what the situation was and what we were doing Jack eberts uh talked to uh

17:31

the folks down in the lore uh part down towards 29 drop point 29 uh told them

17:38

what was going on uh and they were to expect the same

17:43

thing uh the impact um is not very real at

17:49

first um I know I know I

17:55

was uh when they they did Hold Us in in the day after the next day we went out

18:02

and burned out around the old uh Spike camp and the third day I went back with

18:10

a division uh and I was told take take

18:15

these two Crews to Blue Lookout walk them downhill to the fire and then start

18:22

tying to the fire perimeter and then start digging line and it was immediate I said no I'm not doing

18:31

that what I will do is drive around pick the fire up down below tie into the

18:38

perimeter and we will dig line up to both ridges which we did um even if we

18:45

had come down The Ridge at that time it would not have been a a big deal the fire fire Behavior was not a fraction of

18:52

what it had been on the 29th or even the 30th early part of the 30th uh but at

18:57

the same time uh we wanted we I wanted to get back to good behaviors and I was

19:03

taught good behaviors by some some salty old fire dogs and so it was important to

19:09

me that I get back into something that I knew um and that was going back direct

19:17

that was not walking down the hill to fire it was coming up the hill to fire

19:23

so that's what we did um I'll see if if I can get through this

19:29

part of it the most profound memory I

19:48

have you've got uh you got

19:54

responsibility and I had responsibility for over 100 people

20:00

and that will consume you and there's there's not anything

20:07

you're going to do to get away from it all you have to do is learn to live with

20:14

it and there's not one thing that can be said to me today that makes it any less

20:27

painful when we first arrived at the incident our Strike team was split up so

20:32

that immediately put us on edge the strike team leader we were assigned uh to was Larry Sears who none of us knew

20:40

our Strike team leader was assigned as the nighttime Strike team leader RC Caroll from the L he had three engines

20:46

we were out here with Larry with two of our engines so it really wasn't a Strike Team it was a task force so on that

20:52

particular day um we kind of got started out with being unfamiliar not only with

20:58

the ground but with the supervisory staff that we were going to be working with so I don't want to say we didn't trust Larry but that it took a little

21:05

bit to get to know what his background and experience was and we we came to feel confident that he was a good guy

21:11

had lots of experience and knew what he was doing so we ended up in the area

21:16

just below the clearcut by early afternoon between the clearcut area and drop point 28 there's

21:22

a parking lot where the vehicles were parked that was designated as a safety zone

21:29

um which we had talked about earlier on we had spent the day earlier prepping Line near the top of that clearcut with

21:35

the smoke jumpers and knew that if something happened that was going to be our only option that or to drive out of

21:41

the area so about 3:00 in the afternoon we were I was a Sawyer and an EMT on the

21:49

crew um we were liming up Lodge pole Pine along that Dozer line and noticed

21:55

that the winds began to pick up the tops of the lodge pole were starting to sway back and forth were starting to see a

22:00

little bit of dust picking up off that Dozer line so we stopped our operations

22:06

of course you running a chainsaw you can't hear anything on the radio and back in those days only one person on the crew had a radio anyway and that was

22:13

typically on the engine we didn't have portable radio radio capability that we have now so we made contact with Larry

22:21

and who made contact with Jim um um Steel who talked with somebody up

22:30

in the air who told Jim and we heard this on the ground you guys don't have

22:35

to worry that fire is air miles from your location you're good so we went

22:41

back to work about a half an hour after that um things were really beginning to

22:47

noticeably change the wind changed direction we were starting to see indraft winds down Canyon which struck

22:53

me as a little odd so I stopped sign looked down Canyon and remember there

22:59

was a lot of canopy a lot heavier than this you couldn't see from that Dozer line down into the canyon to where the

23:04

fire was at all however we could see a towering column actually two columns

23:10

that were beginning to merge and do this kind of a twisting motion so at that point in time uh we were very concerned

23:17

about the location of the fire right about then uh Pac and the Carson or

23:23

whatever other Hot Shot crew that was um came marching up the hill past us to to

23:28

the clearcut which was the the real safety zone so we quit saw packed

23:34

everything up in our engines drove as far as we could up into that Safety Zone by then you could kind of see what was

23:40

developing that that fire was exploding we could see the gaseous Balls of Fire

23:47

above the Treetops and then I started taking pictures so I've got pictures of

23:52

a wall of fire from one side of the clear cut to the other 200 300 ft above the Treetops

23:59

we had some fusees we a couple of us took fusees down to the edge of the clearcut along the doors in line and

24:04

tossed them into the gr wberry and this kind of open fuel that's not going to do any good at all didn't didn't buy us a

24:12

thing so we retreated back up to the engines got the water out um the wind

24:18

was incredibly strong at this point and it was an indraft wind blowing downhill toward the fire Crystal Clear air just

24:26

like it is right here today right now and uh it it was kind of uh an amazing sight

24:34

to see this is my seventh year in fire I'd never seen that kind of fire behavior before so I was fascinated by

24:40

it it was an interesting place to be to to say the least but we knew we were

24:45

threatened and that um we'd wish that someone had told us or we had had the

24:51

ability to see with a lookout what it was what was developing down below us we could very easily have hopped onto our

24:58

vehicles and driven into Montana or or wherever out toward bear uh camp and

25:05

driven completely out of Harm's Way we had to take shelter or take refuge in the clearcut

25:12

area we felt confident that we could survive that without any problem at all because we had not only 2,000 gallons of

25:19

water with us we had a th000 gallon water tender and 1,000-gallon engine we

25:24

also had Mike's cat so Mike in talking with Larry decided to scrape some line

25:30

out so we spent probably 2 to three hours mostly putting out spot fires

25:36

within our little safety Circle and on the top of our engines we carry host packs on top of our engines I'm sure

25:41

that still goes on in some places now but we were picking up fires that were starting our engines on fire so we spent

25:47

a lot of time spraying water just to keep our little area fir free so that we

25:53

um would have vehicles to drive out on if uh you know we ended up at the point

25:58

where we get out of there the Hot Shot Crews were above us they were yelling down at us to pull further up the hill

26:04

um we were reluctant to leave our engines we stayed there felt comfortable with the water that we had um the

26:11

firefront hit us we got hammered by an ERS shower as intense as I have ever

26:17

seen and I've been on a lot of fire spent 22 years as a hot chak soup all over the country and have seen some

26:23

tremendous fire behavior um but never experienced anything quite like what we

26:28

experienced in that clearcut on the but fire the day that it uh blew

26:34

up we fought fire on this Ridge all summer long we basically started about

26:40

the 12th or 14th of July down here and and stayed here until

26:45

way into the end of December uh when we finished up the uh the

26:52

rehab throughout that throughout the course of those those earlier fires more

26:58

more down on the river break side uh I was chased on numerous occasions uh by

27:05

fire actually out in in the head of Dutch oven uh actually had fire in the

27:11

in the canopy of my Dozer uh coming right through the back window and went

27:16

for quite a little ways before we could outrun it uh off on sheep eater point we

27:22

were being uh there was two dozers uh that were out there we were flown in in the morning we we spent several shifts

27:29

out there flow fuel to them U couple occasions out there got run around by

27:35

fire so throughout the course of the summer I wanted to give you some history uh based on what what had been

27:42

transpiring from a from a dozer operator and what from fire activity what what was happening uh because that had an

27:49

impact on the on my decisions and what I was thinking the day of the

27:54

burnover I was a little concerned uh my Dozer boss went with the two d8s on up

28:00

the hill uh I was going to be separated that day all by myself uh I did not have

28:06

a radio at that time it was uh it was really hard for for Dozer operators to

28:12

get to get a radio we would always ask occasionally we'd get them this fire uh

28:17

they didn't have the radios to to do that with uh wasn't really totally briefed on

28:26

on the burnout operation what what was going to happen uh that day knew that it was going to take place didn't know

28:32

exactly where when or or or a whole lot about that I could see that we had two

28:38

cookers in the bottom of Wallace Andel they were starting to pick up as uh as Steve mentioned colors in those

28:45

columns is what what I was noticing the colors were changing and as I got on

28:51

around the face of that it was getting harder and harder for me to actually keep an eye on those fires so I was

28:57

losing losing the picture of of the fire below me um after being chased around

29:04

several times throughout the summer that was a real real big concern to

29:10

me I looked to the South and there was a big orange ball of

29:16

gases some of the prettiest fire fire gas Flames I've ever seen yet to this date and then a wall of wind hit me and

29:23

when that wind hit me I knew that I was in trouble knew that the fire was right

29:29

there I turned around ran to my Dozer by the time I got onto the Dozer and

29:34

slammed it into gear and started up through the safety area I realized that

29:41

where the vehicles were was not the place to stay I knew that we had a clearcut pretty large clearcut uh from

29:48

the day before and that's where I was headed okay started up that uh up that

29:53

line after I got out of that safety uh where the safety what we thought was a safety area the wind was strong enough

29:59

that it started pull pulling Lodge pole across that line I put my Dozer blade

30:05

down and was actually starting to push that stuff out of my way rather than crawling over it and by that time the

30:11

fire was on top of me I had reached down and pulled a Levi Jacket that I had

30:16

stuck uh in a compartment beside me I'd pull that up over the back of my my neck and hard hat cuz the back of my neck and

30:23

my ears was really starting to burn I was getting Embers and and hot H and

30:28

stuff in the seat of the dozer in the course of right in there I

30:34

uh reached down and grabbed my fire shelter this was a a lifechanging moment

30:40

for me that fire shelter up until that point I had had zero instruction on fire

30:49

shelers uh we used them for pillows padding uh you know they were called

30:55

turkey bake bags all kinds of jokes that had gone around uh you you got one issued to you and you

31:02

threw it over here on this side of your Dozer and that's where it stayed knew nothing about it I did know that there

31:08

was some instructions if you opened it up there was some instructions and so I thought Now's the Time I'd better read

31:15

it was a little difficult because the cat's climbing over this stuff and uh

31:21

had gloves on opened up the pouch pull the instructions out and go to open them up and just as I focus on it the wind

31:28

rips them out of my hand but not before I see that it is written in

31:35

Spanish seriously I did not know that one side had English and one side had

31:41

Spanish I just thought okay I got the Spanish [Laughter] model that was a life-changing moment

31:49

for me in my career I decided that young people new firefighters contractors needed to know

31:57

something about fire shelters when I got out of this I was going to do something about that and today I am a State

32:04

Certified instructor and that's the most favorite class that I can teach there

32:09

was no visibility it was just black and then it kind of open up it'd be black

32:15

kind of open up and I remember looking up a tunnel and at the end of that tunnel was a little figure of a man

32:23

waving at me for all he was worth and that man was Larry Sears

32:28

just as I came out of the Timber it was like the fire took a breath and just kind of rolled back off of me

32:35

momentarily and it opened up just as clear as it is right here today tons of

32:41

light Larry baales up onto my Dozer and the first question he asked is do you have a fire shelter and I think he by

32:48

that time he looks down and seees can see that I do and I say yes and he says do you have an extra and it's like no

32:55

why and he says we have a water tender driver that does not have a fire shelter

33:01

we were screaming at each other cuz it was so loud and I I to communicate to him I pointed at my gauges that were in

33:08

the red and I said I need water the engines have to spray water we'll open up a cing spray water on the radiator

33:13

and cool this thing down or it's just not going to work and what was happening to my Dozer was we had zero oxygen and

33:23

heat okay and density altitude playing playing into that even though it was an aspirated engine had a turbo that cat

33:30

did not have enough oxygen to run and so it was it was way under horsepower was laboring just to pull itself um we

33:38

cooled it down the Dozer blade was pointed uphill and if if memory serves me right I believe it was angled in

33:45

towards the engines and the water tender I made two or three passes back and forth getting down to Mineral soil and

33:51

kind of making a trough and every time I would back up it would fill full of hot ash and Embers

33:58

Larry had me turn around and push the other direction tried to get that wind

34:03

row the other way and it didn't make a difference uh by then I had remembered

34:08

seeing uh like Steve mentioned that the folks were on top of their engines putting putting out some spot fires and

34:14

stuff and I again looked down at my my engine it was starting to run red I had on a cheap pair of Sawyer goggles uh

34:21

that had the screens and didn't fit my face very well and I was getting soot and Sparks and everything in my eyes

34:27

having a really hard time seeing uh could hardly hear my cat run at that

34:32

time and was having a really hard time seeing the blade uh and that was the point when we were getting that ember

34:39

shower uh got off my Dozer uh someone on the engine got me a set of the really

34:45

good black rubber goggles uh put those on someone got me a handkerchief got it around my mouth and at that period of

34:52

time I had taken off my gloves I think to tie that handkerchief and when I went to get back on my Dozer I stepped on the

34:58

C frame stepped on the track and grabbed the post to swing into the seat wasn't

35:03

until the next day in the hospital when I woke up that I realized that I had blistered I had several red red blisters

35:11

in my hand from touching that the metal on that Dozer without my glove from the radiant heat after getting back on my

35:19

Dozer it was decided that we needed because hot Embers kept blowing in under the engines and next to the engines it

35:25

was decided that we needed to keep pushing stuff away uh I think I'd already made one pass around everything

35:33

uh but then it would it would accumulate again so the engine folks took turns I would as I would go from one end to the

35:40

other they had a hose on each side of the engines and they would pick up my Dozer and spray water in the radiator

35:48

and take me around down one side as I would come around the next hes would pick me up and we did that pretty much

35:55

the course of the fire that burned from this side going back that way at us and at that

36:01

point we hunkered down uh pretty much between the engines and the Dozer and

36:06

after that died down then we had the little firestorms the whirly gigs that tornadoes that come along and they pick

36:12

they're just yanking everything up off the ground and I remember through the course of that and it just scared me I

36:17

don't know why at that it took to that point to really really scare me I was already scared but to really really

36:23

scare me when I looked up and felt the heat that was coming out of that little cyclone and it felt like I was being

36:30

lifted off the ground that really got to me it was unnerving

36:35

uh don't know how long we stayed there uh Steve and I kind of think we were we

36:40

were there till shortly before dark we were probably under the fire for a good

36:45

hour and a half 45 minutes briefing that morning that I

36:52

remember was uh the line boss said uh what we're going to do is use aerial ignition I don't remember if we said

36:58

hell torch or a ignition they didn't have ping pongs back there so we're going to do a ignition Down in the Hole

37:04

all day and then when this thing comes out as a firew WHL we want you to

37:09

handlight your indirect line and it's going to slam together like a block burn and we're all going to go home and we

37:15

looked at each other and said there's no effing way so we knew from the start this

37:21

wasn't going to work flag and pacon our safety zone was always the clearcut

37:27

always is the clearcut it was huge and we didn't like some of these uh

37:33

well we didn't like any of the the safety zones that they had built and they had one for us that was down below

37:39

drop point 28 29 and if you look on the map it's the Dozer line that goes to

37:44

nowhere and we're on the end of it and we're on the end of it and so we were supposed to fire out with fire coming up

37:51

the hill at us fired out with no Anchor Point and no nothing else and we had a they had a small safety zone down there

37:57

that doesn't show on the map there's probably 150 ft diameter so had we stayed in that safety zone even with

38:04

shelters we would have died I don't remember getting much of a

38:10

briefing at all kind of get out there and figure out what's going on um we ended up if um

38:19

so the um Carson was up on top of the hill on the upper end up on ten cup Hill

38:27

uh then uh YZ Eagles Bia crew was below them and then we were below YZ and so we

38:34

were spread out very very thin almost to the draw down there in the bottom got

38:41

the crew working um pretty much everybody lined out again

38:47

super thin didn't didn't feel we had near enough people uh to to burn and

38:53

hold that line and uh I started to Walk This Way coming this way west to see what was out

39:00

this way what are they doing over here um are they burning out what do they have maybe get some help I don't know

39:06

but just figure out build essay figure out what's going on I got about halfway up this hill and I ran into a person

39:12

coming down doing the same thing and we talked very briefly um I can't remember who it was

39:20

or anything about the conversation except that while we were talking we we

39:25

heard this jet flying over head and we we both paused to let the jet go by so

39:31

we could hear each other speak and we both kind at the same time we both kind of got that oh moment

39:38

you know that oh realization that not a jet that's a fire and the smoke

39:44

started kind of rolling over us at that time and it was almost probably about the same time we got a called you need

39:49

to get back to safety zones so he ran this way I went that way and started Gathering up my

39:56

crew running into people about in the draw down there in the bottom knew that

40:01

was going to be a bad spot um to try and and um you know

40:07

weather this thing so we kept going up the hill things getting awful damn close

40:13

I mean it looking like it's it's coming on top of us so there was another safety

40:20

zone or clearing up there that they talk about or they don't talk about in any of the reports it was between the draw and

40:26

the what they're calling the lower safety zone where we deployed the lower deployment site Roy

40:33

um uh and as we went up we stopped at that one because the fire was it it

40:39

looked like it was just about on top of us and uh it was nowhere big enough uh

40:45

to uh to set up and given the the fire Behavior but it didn't look like we were

40:50

going to have enough time to make it to the uh the lower safety zone and I mean

40:56

we were just about ready to commit to that spot and the wind did a one or did

41:02

a 90° and so it was it was blowing pretty much you know to the North and then it

41:09

switched to the East and was going parallel almost parallel to the line and everything started moving in

41:15

that direction so it bought us enough time to get to the lower safety zone there was some some people both from the

41:21

umz crew and from Flamingo that were trying to burn out not having real good luck the dozers were working pushing

41:27

site bigger uh as big as they could get it um I think I jumped in and tried to

41:32

help out with some of the burning and it was as I I don't remember having really

41:37

any luck at all um it was trying to burn some of this green stuff here it be very very similar to try and get something to

41:44

burn in here so we abandoned that everybody pulled back to U the center of

41:51

of that deployment Zone and and towards the north end of it away from the the

41:57

firefront that was coming the approaching firefront um and really

42:05

um up until the time the fire hit the line um because you know we had worked

42:12

on that fire for three or four days three or four shifts we had been pushed into safety zones I think every single

42:20

day probably got some complacency uh because of that you know well here we

42:26

are again in a safety zone it's going to be okay it's going to be all right and this is a really damn big safety

42:33

zone but I remember vividly when that fire hit the

42:40

the the edge of the the timber there on the cat line um I remember there was

42:45

some people in shelters already and uh it was it was just fire probably three

42:52

two 300 feet tall as far as I could see down each Direction of the cat line and

42:58

it was pretty obvious at that point no this ain't going to be good enough so um

43:04

at that point I dumped my gear got my shelter out and the winds hit and I remember I almost lost it I had it in

43:10

one hand and it was blown around like this I managed to hang on to it don't

43:16

recall what method I got into it or anything like that but um got down got

43:22

in it kind of curled up in it I remember once I did get in it I was kind of fetal position and uh it was amazing the uh

43:30

the amount it's really amazing the amount of radiant heat it does reflect once I was in it um I had a moment where

43:36

I was fairly comfortable I knew probably not going to burn up might die of

43:41

getting hit by a snag or um suffocate and the smoke but um you know didn't

43:48

feel like I was going to burn up at the time so we had

43:53

um we had probably about uh 20 30 minutes of just very intense heat you

44:00

could tell when the the fire um spotted over and uh you know from the intensity

44:08

where the heat was mostly in front of you to where it was then on both sides of you when it spotted across and it

44:13

built up on the back side um once it got fairly intense behind us we we moved they talked about

44:20

that in the video making a move and these moves were 10 15 ft you you know

44:27

where you get up some guys some folks I think crawled I stood up with it and

44:33

moved and uh that that distance was I mean just imagine the

44:40

most physically exerting thing you could do because there was no air it was just the smoke

44:45

was so bad you couldn't see your hand that far it was there was so much smoke and and so just that little bit of

44:53

effort was just completely physically over whelming and then you fall down dig

45:00

a little hole in the dirt stuff your face in it try and find some error and just choking gag and choke and gag and

45:05

choke and

45:11

[Music]

45:19

[Music] [Applause]

45:24

gag we hung out there for I can't remember how much longer another hour or

45:29

so uh they had us leave our tools and we did a slow March

45:35

out uh we were traveling in our vans like that crew did all the time so we went back uh got our vans they had

45:44

evacuated the spike camp we were staying in so we didn't have a home uh didn't know where we were going

45:50

so we ended up just kind of hanging out there which it was okay cuz we were in air conditioning finally got some

45:55

filtered air and inside the vehicles we could breathe for a while so it wasn't too bad uh made it back to the new Spike

46:05

Camp um all our gear had been gathered up bundled and then uh dumped in a heap

46:11

somewhere so we're trying to locate our gear it was really late there was no food anything but rations for everybody

46:16

to eat and um they were screening people see if uh the medical people were

46:22

screening people to see if there were any other respiratory issues or anything like that and then uh it was super late

46:30

when we finally bed down and uh we were up the next day ready to go on

46:38

shift think about that think about that for a second you know something as

46:45

traumatic as that and the overall

46:51

expectation and I'm not singling out that team or or anybody in in specific

46:56

it was a cultural thing it was like that was the thing back then you know are you

47:02

hurt good no you know we uh we need you on the line and so we were up ready and

47:08

then they decided to give us a day off one another thing that you can

47:13

expect when this happens when you have this large uh convective uh burnover and

47:20

and and for me this was the only time that I can remember a a the but fire is

47:29

the best example I can think of of a independent Crown fire run it was not

47:35

you know you heard uh Merill talking about spotfires and how it would it

47:41

would you know hey you got a Spotfire in a tree and then it and then it spots into the top of another tree and and

47:47

once it got going it stayed in the tops of the trees until it got over the ridge to the north it it really did and and so

47:56

the other thing you can expect is in the clearcut I don't know if you remember

48:01

Tracy where you were but in the clearcut after it had passed the clear cut it got

48:06

extremely cold mhm yeah and I mean to the point that firefighters were shivering it uh and we experienced and

48:14

have documented the same thing on the Arnell hillfire it creates a river of

48:19

cold air at the surface area that none of the aviators are feeling above it and

48:26

that's because of the the influx and draw to the main fire the other thing I remember was

48:32

probably several minutes I could tell you how long but segments of what would

48:37

have been a huge firew worldl just with wind going and then coming around

48:45

and and then there was uh uh Rock and pebble oh yeah Fallout all the quarter

48:52

half dollar size rocks just got sucked UPS hats were just like thrown off packs

48:59

were rolling across the ground deer remember the deer coming running out of the

49:08

trees based on mostly AAL photographic coverage of lower owl C and Wallis cek

49:16

cleared up the question of whether the hel torch burn fire Behavior affected

49:22

the fire behavior that was observed in in Wallace cck

49:27

and we had some excellent air photos to look at and you would characterize the fire Behavior between all Crick and

49:35

Wallace Crick as patchy there was no continuous Crown run there was no

49:41

high-intensity burn on a large scale on the border between those two Burns and

49:46

we concluded and we felt fairly safe in doing so that that fire in in oloc did

49:54

not influence the behavior of what happened in Wallis cek but the very

49:59

focus of people's attention high level positions with the

50:05

incident management team on the helitorch burnout detracted from their

50:10

attention on the rest of the fire that the eyes in the sky were so focused on the helitorch

50:18

that day that they were not available to people Elsewhere on the fire and that

50:24

was a an unfortunate outcome of what happened with a h torch in all

50:32

Crick one of the things that uh kind of I've been reflecting on today is how

50:39

close those Crews were to not surviving that so the fire shelters are designed

50:47

to survive radiant heat only so if we're standing around a campfire we feel radiant heat if we stick our hands in

50:54

the flame what kind of heat is is that then convective so convective heat is

51:01

hot gases moving over something over your hand in that case right the fire

51:07

shelters work because they have that aluminum foil coating on the outside that outer outer layer which reflects

51:14

95% of the energy of the radiant energy away so as long as it's just radiant heat that's impinging on the fire

51:22

shelters they can survive almost a nuclear bomb I mean they're amazingly uh

51:28

they do amazingly well but if they're exposed at all to any flow of

51:36

hot gases Flames aluminum aluminum has a relatively low melting point it

51:42

immediately just flashes away the aluminum out outer layer flashes away so

51:47

thinking about that in the context of this fire so some of the work I've been doing is looking at flames on slopes and

51:55

flames in Wind and not only do fires burn faster on

52:00

slopes and wind but one of the things that happens on slopes is the Flames attached to the slope and uh that's one

52:08

reason they burn faster when they're moving up a slope and also wind pushes the Flames over so they reach out

52:13

further ahead of the fire right so if I was on those Crews and had been looking

52:19

at thinking working in here and okay this is where I need to go if things go

52:25

bad I mean I would have thought realizing that my fire shelter

52:31

is only good for radiant heating I'm going to be exposed to some convective heating I'm at the top of a ridge or

52:37

near the top of a ridge lots of winds to me it's amazing I mean it's a

52:44

it's uh we should have had a Mir a massacre here should have been 150 people killed but think about those guys

52:51

in 1985 did they have any guidance on what constituted an adequate safety Zone

52:57

what did they depend on to make the determination if these were safety zones experience

53:04

right I mean there was a study that was done in the early 80s looking at fire breakes in California and in that it

53:10

mentions just possibly could be used for safety zones but I can't find anywhere in the official training that says these

53:18

are the attributes that constitute a adequate safety zone and uh obviously on the morning of

53:25

the 29th when somebody was you know they were flying this they recognized those aren't big enough we need to make them

53:32

bigger and that's that's amazing to me

53:37

also just to hear some of the folks that were closer to my age admitting things

53:44

like um that that was the first time they'd ever dealt with indirect and uh back in the day I would

53:51

have never perceived that uh or Bill Williams discomfort with branches because we we were just trying to move

53:57

into the IC and in this particular region I know was a little resistant to

54:02

that because I came from that region to the west where it was fully implemented and we were still talking line boss and

54:09

sector boss here when I first got here so um so those are some of the flashbacks I had but I I always am

54:15

conscious of the young people that are um at these staff rides and and just what came up for me is um and I wanted

54:23

to tag on after Todd said that because you know I I heard some innuendos of of

54:28

mistrust of overhead teams and uh and I will admit overhead teams uh get caught

54:34

up in no we don't want to spike people because they got to have a hot meal and

54:39

that's because they care if you can try to understand that but then at the same

54:44

time I'm trying to get my CG to understand that that some of those things the hot shots are telling us are

54:51

are actually really sensible and we can find ways to support you guys the best way we can so so the the key there is

54:59

you got to speak up and I am really picky about who I pick on my team as far

55:05

as divisions and operations and people that will not rebuke somebody who raises

55:10

their hand and says wow this seems kind of crazy here so you you've got to speak

55:16

up and if you if you have some mistrust you got to talk to your crew boss or somehow push that up the line um as best

55:24

you can because uh I want want to hear it as a type one I see there was a a

55:30

topic brought up about trust trusting overhead you guys are way too young to

55:35

not trust there's varying degrees of trust um you got to build on that I'm

55:41

not saying that you trust everybody 100% but you'll get that I guess I just look

55:47

at it if if if we go out there and blanketly don't trust what the people we're working for that's when

55:53

independent action takes place [Music]

55:59

uh couple weeks ago I was at um cordelane just talking about firefighter

56:05

accidents cuz I go to uh many of the accident investigations I'm going to to

56:12

Arizona tomorrow um so I asked the class how

56:17

many red twisp uh accident uh narrative report

56:23

anybody here okay and these were this was crew

56:30

boss and what Bob just told you is is get to reading Carl W read it if you

56:38

can't comprehend it read it again accident reports read them fir

56:45

leadership. goov there's a pages and pages of of

56:50

reading if if your force is putting this much time and effort and money into

56:55

bringing you up here bringing all these guys up here you owe it how how 60 what years 60

57:04

62 years in the business you owe it to Bob

57:10

read I want to applaud folks for bringing on this staff ride I think it was been really great and powerful from

57:17

a standpoint of allowing the people that went through the event to share and to

57:22

communicate cuz they weren't allowed that opportunity at that point and I think for those of us who have had the

57:27

opportunity to attend it's been extremely powerful from that standpoint um and I think that I've been

57:34

on several other staff rid and I think it's always impressive that you can read the report you can put it together but

57:41

it doesn't make an impression until you're walking the ground and you're looking at where people were at and typically it's not as big of a

57:49

scale you're reading the report and you think of this grandio scale when in reality it's really a smaller footprint

57:55

than what you imagine and so I think there's a lot of I guess my point there is is as you guys are

58:01

going through your careers or those of us that are in our careers if there's opportunities to participate in staff

58:08

rides or events that happened take the opportunity to go out walk it talk about

58:14

it um think through the process there's a lot of learning that's occurred just from this last day or so of information

58:22

sharing sharing from other experiences um that's the point of we need to process we can't we can't take

58:30

Merl's experiences or Roy's because we're not old enough to take that on but we can learn from that as they're

58:36

sharing their information or if we can tag on with mentoring um I had an

58:42

opportunity to have some awesome mentors in my younger career as we were burning big projects and so on and and those

58:48

folks took took us aside and mentored us along and so I think those are some of the things as you're coming up through

58:54

leadership or if you're just starting out within the agency ask those questions but share information what are

59:00

you seeing what's going on and then as Leaders communicate that back down help people tie the pieces together so they

59:07

can learn from your events and learn from your experiences so it's not so much of it happened 31 years ago so it's

59:14

never going to happen again that's not true we can learn from those experiences I mean we still go out on the man goch

59:19

ride that happened a long time ago so we're still learning from that and so I guess I just encourage the continue the

59:27

learning process continue the mentoring process continue the information sharing and communicate amongst yourselves

59:33

there's a a big opportunity there I'm going to tell you something

59:38

and I don't tell you this for any sympathy at all

59:44

um I know where I was 3 years ago

59:51

today I know where I was and uh mhm and I asked myself

59:58

why how could that happen and you do the calculation of the numbers you know

1:00:04

there people say it's all about the numbers uh it's not about chance it's

1:00:09

not about chance it's about choice and you have made a choice to be in a career that's the

1:00:17

greatest career you could have but make sure that's a conscientious choice because by your own

1:00:26

action or inaction and decision you're not a winner you're not a loser but you better be a

1:00:32

Chooser because you choose to live and die every day it's your choice and nobody told me

1:00:40

that when I started nobody told me you better choose to live because you could

1:00:46

die doing this we love it we have a passion for it we have an

1:00:51

obligation in this business and this is a challenge to to take limited

1:00:58

information in kind of a chaotic situation and try to make sense of it

1:01:04

and begin connecting dots and there's a time that you really

1:01:12

with that limited information as more information comes in and things come to you you have an obligation to disconnect

1:01:18

those dots and use or discard that new information or

1:01:24

discard a DOT that you connected that wasn't really relevant at the time

1:01:30

that's called learning and so my greatest fear with doing these staff rides with doing the

1:01:37

Yarnell Hill staff rids is that that uh that we're committed to the learning

1:01:46

part of it to making sure that as we connect dots that we're doing it in a

1:01:51

reasonable in a very reasonable and validated way now I can tell you that there wasn't a

1:02:00

whole lot of uh cism in 1985 going on if any I didn't I

1:02:06

mean if someone had said that I would have known what it was and then the the the first part of that um offended me it

1:02:15

offended me greatly but in this business we are self-disciplining and if someone tells

1:02:22

you you're full of crap you better listen and and at that point in time

1:02:28

there is this thing they call peer support you better know you better know

1:02:36

someone that will validate what you're thinking may not be your best peer

1:02:43

support but someone that stands there and goes through and might ask you the

1:02:48

question okay I understand what you know it's easy to for us to stay stand here

1:02:53

and go well I know this and I know that I know what I was doing that day I tell you what I try to reflect and go what

1:03:00

didn't I know what did I not know so uh as you connect to dots um uh do it

1:03:08

carefully frequently be flexible with doing that we've got to find in us that

1:03:16

resiliency and don't laugh but why would a guy that wears a cowboy hat carry a pink handkerchief damn it I hate

1:03:24

it was I think my wife put that in

1:03:32

there dad comeing [Laughter]

1:03:37

um and the last thing I want to I want to share with you is I uh I've studied

1:03:45

and and read a man that um came out of World War II as a youngster just like

1:03:52

and he had seen battle he was a pilot and he survived and he was sitting there with a

1:04:00

release from the military trying to decide what he wanted to do what did he want to do and he decided he wanted to

1:04:07

be a teacher dedicated his life went to

1:04:12

school got a degree got a master's got all kinds and I'm listening to him give a

1:04:19

talk at almost 90 years old from a

1:04:24

wheelchair and he said this and I I

1:04:30

reiterated he said this the only thing I know now after all

1:04:36

these years is that there is so much more to learn there is so much more to learn so I'm going to answer your

1:04:43

question buddy what's for lunch same thing that's for dinner and

1:04:50

the same things that's for breakfast it's learning it's learning

1:04:56

that's what's for lunch that's what's for dinner and that's what's for breakfast in this business that's what it better

1:05:02

[Music] [Laughter]

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be [Music]

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