Part 2 - Do our Wildland Fire (WF) Instructors foster "complete" lessons learned in the WF culture?
Authors: Douglas Fir, Joy A. Collura, and contributing others
Views expressed to "the public at large” and "of public concern"
DISCLAIMER: Please fully read the front page of the website (link below) before reading any of the posts
The authors and the blog are not responsible for misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others. The content even though we are presenting it public if being reused must get written permission in doing so due to copyrighted material. Thank you.
In this post, we have reached out to several WFs and FFs who worked on the Dude Fire as well as many of the loved ones of those deceased. We encourage anyone interested in sharing their June 1990 Dude Fire stories and the aftermath to reach us. There is newly revealed evidence and personal accounts in this post, and it is likely to be emotional and sensitive to some.
Yarnell Hill Fire Revelations © (2018) Sheff LLC
All rights reserved. Must give full source credit as well as the specific post when utilizing our work. Portions of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form, and by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, with the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, email the publisher (email@example.com ), addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator."
The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. Proverbs 22:3
The authors - as well as countless Wildland Firefighters and Firefighters engaged in wildland fires - consider this Yarnell Hill Fire Revelations (YHFR) website post of special import and concern among wildland fire supervisors. One main reason is that we firmly believe that the undisclosed causal factors influencing the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire fatalities were significant in setting the stage for the overall outcome of the June 30, 2013, Yarnell Hill Fire debacle and Granite Mountain Hot Shot Crew fatalities. The parallels of fuels, weather, terrain, fire behavior, and, of course - especially the human factors, errors, and failures are noteworthy. To the best of our knowledge, these were never examined, investigated, or discussed anywhere. And if they were - they were never publicly shared anyplace that we know of. And because of that, we are being taught and learning "incomplete" lessons.
It is a hard truth to accept the fact that wildland fire deaths are inevitable because of human factors, (i.e. People do dumb s**t!) and all we can do is our best to reduce those fatalities.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.Proverbs 1:7
First off, we must address the possible controversial - definitely thought provoking - nature of this post, it is important to first set the stage with a few key principles using the USDA Forest Service Agency's Standards and Guiding Principles and "What We Believe" "official" website. Bear in mind, these are the Agency's Guidelines now and we can only hope that the 1990 equivalent would have been at least somewhat analogous.
I, Douglas Fir (DF), need to digress for a moment. According to two of the YH Fire Investigators (SAIT and ADOSH) the US Forest Service funded the entire SAIT and SAIR. With Federal funding comes Federal control. I have a FOIA Request (2019-FS-WO-04116-F) over a year old now, seeking those Public records. I am seeking:
" 1) All records (defined below*), including the applicable USDA USFS FOIA Index Log, created or obtained, regarding the June 30, 2013, Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) and related personnel and Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Report (SAIR) for proposed, discussed, and / or actual funding by the USDA Forest Service (USFS), and
2) All records (defined below*) regarding the June 30, 2013, Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) and related personnel and Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Report (SAIR) for proposed, discussed, and / or actual funding by the USDA Forest Service (USFS) between, to, and / or from any and all current and / or former USDA USFS Aviation and Fire Management (AFM) personnel, including current and / or former email addresses and between, to, and / or from the former Arizona State Forestry (ASF) and / or current Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management (DFFM) current and / or former personnel and email addresses ..."
I regularly remind them and regularly get this or a similar "backlogged and be patient" excuse:
"This email acknowledges receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, dated May 09, 2019, which was received in the Washington Office (WO) FOIA Service Center on May 20, 2019. You requested:
"Yarnell Hill Fire records
"Please be advised that the WO FOIA Service Center has a backlog of pending FOIA requests and appeals. We are diligently working to process each request and appeal in the order in which it was received. Your patience is greatly appreciated." (emphasis added)
And now back to addressing the USDA Forest Service Agency's Standards and Guiding Principles and "What We Believe"
Several of the current key ethics and legal issues they list are as follows:
"We maintain high professional and ethical standards." and "We are responsible and accountable for what we do." "We follow laws, regulations, executive direction, and congressional intent." and "We are an efficient and productive organization that excels in achieving its mission."
"The American people can count on the Forest Service to perform." and "The work is interesting, challenging, rewarding, and fun -- more than just a job!"
USDA USFS Guiding Principles and "What We Believe"
Without a doubt, we are sure there are many diligent, ethical, hard working, and well-meaning USDA USFS employees that believe and follow these principles to the best of their abilities. However, the ones that we post about on this website are definitely in some other, less than ethical league.
Consider now the collection and production of credible evidence having probative value, (i.e. "seeks the truth" or "evidence which is sufficiently useful to prove something important"). Because of the scarcity of individual participants and knowledge from a wildfire from 30 years ago, and those unwilling to comfortably and safely come forward to openly share their first-hand accounts, and for those that actually worked on the Dude Fire June 25-26, 1990, we must also rely on Hearsay.
Hearsay is defined as “a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” (emphasis added) FED. R. EVID. 801(c). The paramount reason for excluding these types of statements is due to their lack of trustworthiness. Glen Weissenberger, Hearsay Puzzles: An Essay on Federal Evidence Rule 803(3), 64 TEMP. L. REV. 145, 145 (1991). Furthermore, "Although the above rules and guidelines exist for [court] ... , there are various exceptions to the hearsay rule that have been carved out. While each exception is different and very specific, what is common to each is a situation that encourages trustworthiness at the time the statement was made. (emphasis added) ( https://www.mitchell-attorneys.com/heresay-arizona )
Given all the above, what now comes into play is the: "Arizona Rule 803. Exceptions to the Rule Against Hearsay - Regardless Whether The Declarant is Available." This is similar to the case of the public records for the USFS Aerial Firefighting Utilization and Effectiveness (AFUE) study Yarnell Hill Fire and the Yarnell Hill Fire "friendly fire" events along the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor during separate firing operations, both on June 30, 2013. They are posted here on this website.
The following are included by the Arizona Rule 803. Exceptions to the Rule Against Hearsay - Regardless Whether The Declarant is Available:
"(1) Present Sense Impression. A statement describing or explaining an event or condition, made while or immediately after the declarant perceived it.
"(2) Excited Utterance. A statement relating to a startling event or condition, made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement that it caused.
"(3) Then-Existing Mental, Emotional, or Physical Condition. A statement of the declarant’s then-existing state of mind (such as motive, intent, or plan) or emotional, sensory, or physical condition (such as mental feeling, pain, or bodily health), but not including a statement of memory or belief to prove the fact remembered or believed unless it relates to the validity or terms of the declarant’s will."
CaseMine Legal Research ( https://www.casemine.com/search/us?q=rule+803+exceptions )
We utilized these AZ Rule 803 hearsay exceptions for our June 26, 1990, Dude Fire research. We have a former Tonto National Forest (TNF) Payson Ranger District (PRD) employee that worked on the fire, one of the former SAIT Investigators, written records of HS that worked on the fire, and several public records, including archive videos and video clips.
We first utilized these AZ Rule 803 hearsay exceptions, when we considered the case of the June 30, 2013, firing operation along the Sesame Street and Shrine Fuel / Fire Break Corridor area operations seen in a video during July 2013 at the Yarnell, AZ Library, (later seen on YouTube). This video showing evidence of 'two WFs / FFs dressed in Nomex, using drip torches, firing out along a road' was witnessed by as many as twenty (20) individuals. This included us, the two YH Fire Eyewitness Hikers, several experienced WFs and FFs and IMT personnel, IM participants and local citizens. Therefore, we had to rely on hearsay for some of our evidence. First off - the video tape has disappeared and the YouTube video as well - gone without a trace, like so many other evidences related to the YH Fire. Secondly, the "fear factor" of those involved in and /or that have documentary evidence, restricting them from coming forward.
And then there is the FF that was directly involved in one of the YH Fire Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor firing operations that emotionally gave his "first-hand" account of what occurred at a training academy attended by over a hundred WF and FF students during an Intermediate Fire Behavior (S-290) session. This was then recounted to us by one of the Instructors. We presented this evidence in our Washington, D.C. Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE) Conference and then first posted here on this website on December 12, 2019, beginning at Figure 8.
There are quoted excerpts from a Perryville Crew survivor that has been 'reliving' this tragic wildfire and shared his detailed recollections of this fatal wildfire from thirty (30) years ago. He will be referred to as the "Alternate Crew Member" (PACM) during the relevant Perryville Crew segments herein.
His contributions add brand new information and definitely augments what we know already as well. He corroborates what has been known from the beginning and even discounts some of the investigation report.
Hey Larry Terra (Crew Boss on the Dude Fire for Perryville) - I think you were a piece of s**t glory hound, and I think you and AZ State Forester Scott Hunt probably had a yearly running bet on who got the most 'news time.' And I bet other firefighters agree and would make that exact statement too.
What follows is one of several Dude Fire Fatality Investigator photos of the incident in Walk Moore Canyon.
Figure 1. Investigators in Walk Moore Canyon among several deployed fire shelters and WF line gear. Note the freshly cut dozer line to improve the former 2-track logging road as a control line. Source: Mangan, USDA USFS
Dr. Ted Putnam was one of these Investigators. His area of expertise was fatality-site investigation, and it was his responsibility to document each and every item at the site and to carefully examine fire clothing and equipment left in the canyon, looking for burn patterns. "What I look at in very, very fine detail is at the area not necessarily where the people died, but from the moment they had an inkling that they were in trouble," Putnam explained in a recent interview. "Everything that's dropped on that fatality site, I can kind of put it back together and tell you a story about what happened to the people in the last few minutes." (all emphasis added)
"Putnam, who has a doctorate degree in psychology, was also interested in understanding the human factors that could have contributed to the Dude Fire fatalities. ... So I'm also trying to look at the behavioral side of it," Putnam explained. 'People don't deliberately want to get burned over.'"
"Putnam was struck by what he observed. "The sad thing is that their packs laying on the ground didn't even burn ... and my analysis said that all of them would have lived if they would've stayed on the ground and put their nose right next to the ground." His opinion was that the Dude Fire was a survivable fire. People didn't have to die."
While instructing a S-131 Advanced FF, Squad Boss course, with the COVID 19 Phase (Zombie Apocalypse) in full swing, we wanted to make sure the Gila County Community College (GCCC) Eastern AZ College (EAC) Payson Campus wildland fire students met their Career expectations. And, whether we met their expectations as their Cadre Instructor / Co-Instructor.
One student went on to get his pack test and for this Fire Season 2020 tied in with Captain Chad Stluka with Christopher Kohls Fire Department. The other student had local entity expectations to meet, and we are assisting him to learn more about Wildland Fire and ways to protect and mitigate land and private properties. His end goal is to be a Mitigation Specialist. If any of you want to assist in helping him further his education - we welcome you. Any Firewise Ambassadors enthusiasts?
In all these years, Truth Tellers and others with integrity, are all tied together with this invisible thread. So then, go forth and practice your "inherently dangerous" trade to the best of your abilities during this "planned-demic." The source of the planned-demic quote is Jennifer MacGregor of CVV Transcripts.
Figure 2. Whiteboard exhibiting GCCC EAC Advanced Firefighter Type 1, Squad Boss training with extra time spent on "old school" Look Up, Down, and Around (S-133) Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 3. Advance Firefighter Type 1, Squad Boss Lead Instructor and student training on "old school" Look Up, Down, and Around ( S-133) Source: Joy A Collura
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. Proverbs 9:9
Figure 3a. First Wildland Fire Fatality Site Visit Hike for 2020 Source: Joy A Collura
To enhance the S-131 Advance FF / Squad Boss course, we had planned for a Dude Fire Site Visit because of its proximity to Payson and for the reason that this is the 30th Anniversary of this historic wildland fire fatality. We all met at the Pinon Cafe from 7:39 AM-8:48 AM then headed to the Walmart 8:54-9:04AM. We did the Site Visit until 3:33 PM then headed to Collins Ranch area and saw Hellsgate Chief John Wisner and he told us of the the Ellison Fire along the Control Road. And then we traveled on to the Haught Cabin and former Zane Grey site area, then the AZ Game & Fish (AGF) Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery, and finally to Christopher Kohl's FD for the After Action Review (AAR) (5:47-6:12PM). We ended our evening at Ayothaya Thai (6:34-7:30PM). What follows are our photos from our May 23rd, 2020, Dude Fire Site Visit.
Figure 4. Lead Instructor and Student walking along Control Road from Gravel (Borrow) Pit (not pictured) to Dude Fire Site Visit Stand One. It was their designated Safety Zone on June 25-26, 1990. Source: Joy A Collura
Refer to the Dude Fire Staff Ride and Stand links below for much clearer photos, including the gravel pit Safety Zone used on June 25-26, 1990.
Figure 4a. June 25-25, 1990, Gravel Pit Safety Zone. Source: NWCG Staff Ride Toolbox
Figure 5. Lead Instructor and Student walking to Dude Fire Site Visit Stand One along Control Road Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 6. Stand One Sign along Control Road Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 7. Dude Fire Site Visit Stand One - Control Road Overview with Bonita Creek Subdivision along ridgeline, Walk Moore Canyon below, and Mogollon Rim in the background. Power line right-of-way is barely visible off upper left corner of Stand sign. Source: Joy A Collura
The Stands in Staff Rides and / or Site Visits designate a military battle or event location at which the group stops for discussion. The wildland fire service judiciously adopted the Staff Ride concept many years ago.
However, there is a caveat. A wise and virtuous former Investigator has said: "Historically accident investigations have provided crucial feedback for maximizing safety. These investigations have usually produced step-by-step factual reports to document the accident. ... Generally the goal of accident reports is to convey as much of the truth of an event that is discoverable. ... Sometimes investigators deliberately distort or do not report all the causal elements. Such biases lead firefighters to distrust the resulting reports, which can hamper our efforts to stay safe." (emphasis added) We seriously question the "factual reports" issue.
"Although it seems obvious that accident investigations should strive to uncover the actual cause and conditions that led to the accident, this is seldom attempted let alone advocated in the relevant agency investigation guides used by wildland fire and other organizational ... accident investigators." (emphasis added) Accident, accident guides, stories and the truth (2011)
You will truly find this interesting. During the investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office, they created several "draft" copies and distributed them to some - not all - of the 'involved personnel.' Remember that "they" only want those that will follow the Party Line and "go along to get along" to fit their predestined "conclusion." One of the key points of discussion was obviously the Bonita Creek and Walk Moore Canyon firing operation. These 'involved personnel' would then make or suggest specific or general edits and return them to the U.S. Attorneys Office investigator(s).
On or about the third iteration, 'someone' attempted "a fast one" (a shrewd action, especially when unscrupulous or dishonest; an unfair trick, deceitful practice, dishonest dealing, etc.) and listed one of the other HS Crews 'handing off' the firing operation to the Prescott HS. Needless to say, Prescott HS Foreman Sciacca was livid correctly denying that they did any 'firing out' that day. The Prescott HS were performing only holding operations.
There had always been concern, by some, about the intensity and speed of the firing operation - even though it ultimately 'created' the Safety Zone that saved scores of WF, FF, and other Bonita Creek and Walk Moore Canyon 'involved personnel' lives that day. One of the individuals that was intimately involved was later 'rewarded' with a key Washington Office-level fire position, a typical USFS 'tradition' common to other wildland fire fatalities.
For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. Proverbs 4:16
This wise and virtuous former Investigator also said: "Once firefighter and investigator lies about fatality fires get written into official reports, staff rides only turn the lies into dramas. Even if the Truth later seeps out, the staff rides keep regurgitating the same original lies. Net effect is [FFs] keep dying for the same reasons thus NWCG and all its ilk are truly guilty of negligent homicide. We lie to protect our imaginary personal, crew and agency images and real firefighters keep suffering and dying to nourish those collective fragile egos." (emphasis added) "Both Gary Olson [Happy Jack HS Supt.] and I told the real truth at the Battlement Creek Staff Ride [development phase] and none of it ever got incorporated into that Staff Ride. There is very little learning at the Lessons Learned Centers. Calling NWCG a ship of fools is an act of kindness...after all they were once firefighters. Same old shit but still stinky, disgusting and deadly." (emphasis added) "The Battlement Creek Fire Staff Ride comments were made to the current USFS Fire Director Shawna Lagarza." Now former Director.
See Dr. Ted's "Up in Smoke" article for more thought provoking details.
Figure 7a. Overview map of Dude Fire Staff Ride Stands (red numbered circles) and labeled Points of Interest (yellow triangles), also indicating Fuller Creek ), Control Road (left to right in lower quarter), Walk Moore Canyon, Bonita Creek, Road, and Subdivision. Stand 1 Parking is the gravel pit used as their initial Safety Zone on June 25-26, 1990. Source: Dude Fire Staff Ride documents
Stand One provided a major overview with the areas of Bonita Creek subdivision on the ridgeline and Walk Moore Canyon below. The Mogollon Rim (The Rim) is in the background - a major Watch Out #4 as a massive Thermal Belt with latent very active, aggressive to extreme, nighttime fire behavior.
June 1990 proved to be one of Arizona’s hottest months in recorded history. Temperatures reached record or near-record highs for the days just prior to June 26—the day of the Dude entrapment. On this day, the temperature climbed to a record 122 degrees F in Phoenix, an all-time record high, forcing officials to shut down Sky Harbor airport. It was 106 degrees F in Payson (10 miles south of the Dude Fire). An extended period of drought combined with these temperatures to produce critically high fire danger throughout Arizona. Furthermore, below normal precipitation had occurred the previous six months. At Payson, June precipitation was only 40% of normal. General drought conditions had persisted for three years.
Local personnel knew of the conditions of the fuels and what fire behavior could be exhibited, yet it appears many of them ignored those warnings. The Bray Fire which occurred only a few miles west of the Dude Fire two weeks prior exhibited extreme fire behavior. At the onset of the Dude Fire, strong high pressure persisted over Arizona. Record high day and nighttime temperatures with 10%-15% humidity were observed and forecast in the Dude Fire Area. While atmospheric moisture over the state was quite limited, enough did exist to threaten some thunderstorm activity over the mountainous areas, including the Rim Country north of Payson. The topography of the Mogollon Rim provides a favorable orographic lifting forcing mechanism which contributes to thunderstorm development when the convective environment is favorable. The fire occurred in the third year of a drought. The Southwest Area Severity chart showed that the five-day mean Energy Release Component (ERC) was in the extreme range. Heavy fuels and surface fuels were very dry. The National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) fuel moisture values at a nearby station for June 26th were One Hour (0" to 1/4") = 3%; 10o hour (1" to 3") = 6%; 1000 hour (3" to 8") = 8% with thousand hour fuel moistures being Critical Fire Danger at 9%. Live fuel moisture readings of 76%.
Around 1930 on June 25, 1990, the 20-person Perryville inmate Crew arrived at the Payson Ranger District (PRD) on June 25th. Larry Terra was the Perryville Crew Supervisor and a Fire Safety Coordinator. Dave LaTour, a Rural Metro FF, was ordered as the Crew Representative for the Crew and met Terra at the PRD upon arrival. LaTour had previous Crew Rep experience with this Crew and was qualified as a Task Force Leader and was working on his Division Supervisor qualification, but was not carded as such yet. The Crew was under contract with the Arizona Division of State Forestry (ASF). They were instructed to eat and report to Base Camp. Afterwards, they were redirected to the Bonita Creek Estates subdivision, part of the overall fireline.
This is really interesting because below is the cited source for all of the above text from the Wildfire Leadership Development Program (WFLDP) Staff Ride Facilitator's Field Reference Guide, however, this The tragic tale of another deadly Arizona wildfire article is almost word-for-word what the WFLDP states. So then, who is on first?
Here are some media gems from the article you'll want to enjoy ... or not.
"Before the flame front hit, the Alpine Hotshots foreman, Jim "J.P." Mattingly, and his men had been conducting a burnout in Walk Moore Canyon just north of Perryville, using gasoline-filled drip torches to light small fires ..." Oh yeah, raw f**king gas-filled drip torches!
"... Mattingly's fingers were singed when he placed them on Hatch's neck to feel his pulse." I seriously doubt this theatrical statement.
"When an EMT poured water on Hatch to slow the burn, it boiled on contact." And I even more seriously doubt this dramatic statement.
"Trapped on the hilltop, the Alpine crew waited for rescue vehicles to bring them to safety." Trapped on a hilltop in a Safety Zone? You're kidding, right?
The tragic tale of another deadly Arizona wildfire - Jaime Joyce - The Week ( July 3, 2013)
Source: Wildfire Leadership Development Program (WFLDP) Staff Ride Facilitator's Field Reference Guide - NWCG ( https://www.nwcg.gov/sites/default/files/wfldp/docs/sr-dude-fac-field-guide.pdf )
Seventeen inmates from Perryville's minimum-security San Pedro unit served on the fire crew. The men ranged in age from 22 to 39. Among them were Joseph Chacon, 25, and Curtis Springfield, 24, who had both been convicted of aggravated assault; Geoff Hatch, 27, who had been in prison since 1984, charged with theft and burglary; and James Ellis, who was 34 and serving a 20-year sentence for manslaughter. Their bosses were correctional officers Larry Terra, 30, and Sandra Bachman, 43. A third crew boss, Dave LaTour, would later arrive separately. (Joyce - 2013)
Perryville crew members earned between 40 and 50 cents an hour. The pay didn't matter to them. Neither did the inherent risks of the job. Wildland firefighting is brutal, sometimes dangerous, work. They considered it a privilege to fight fire, and a spot on the crew was coveted. Good behavior inside the prison had earned them the opportunity to get past the razor wire and the gates and the floodlights that loomed above the Perryville complex, way out there in the middle of the Sonoran Desert northwest of Phoenix. (Joyce - 2013)
In prison, the men had to wear all orange, all the time. Yet dressed in the firefighting uniform — yellow flame-resistant Nomex jackets, olive green pants, lace-up leather boots, and hard hats — no one could tell that the men were prisoners. And to the people whose homes or land or lives the men saved, they weren't felons. They were firefighters. Heroes. They commanded respect. (Joyce - 2013)
There is a Perryville WF who will be referred to as "Alternate Crew Member" (PACM). He recounts traveling to the wildfire on the first day (June 25th) and then their assignment the following day on June 26th. Some of his content may be disturbing and / or offensive to some. Here (below) is what he has to say about their first day traveling and then on into their early morning work hours on the Dude Fire:
"Them ... reports say we were on shift for 24 hours. Prison help was cheap, especially on a Federal fire line. It was at least 4 hours longer, since our arrival. It took us 4 hours more to travel there from Perryville. Plus it was 2:10ish when they called us up. I was at the end of my shift (8 hours) we also took roughly 90 minutes to bug out for Payson too."
"WE WERE UP (ADRENALINE) TIL WE HIT THE LINE ABOUT A HALF HOUR AFTER ARRIVING. BY MY COUNT, 40.5 HOURS WHEN WE TOOK LUNCH. ( unremembered lunch time) I feel we worked more after lunch than reports say. ..."
Fatigue would definitely be a Human Factor issue here. See the Flathead HS comments below ("They all had thousand mile stares")
During the Winter and Spring months with very little snow-pack, the area experienced persistent drought which resulted in a lot of minor prescribed burn escapes over the weekends after anchoring or tying into snow banks, and difficulty with initial attacks during that period. High nighttime temperatures were the norm. Former Payson District Ranger Robert Bates' concluded: 'the day after the highest nighttime temperature had the most potential for aggressive to extreme fire behavior.'
GTS for "A Key to Blow-up Conditions in the Southwest?" by Robert Bates (1961) ( https://www.nwcg.gov/sites/default/files/wfldp/docs/sr-dude-blowup.pdf )
The month before in May, the Bray Fire, caused by an abandoned campfire ran upslope from the Highline Trail to the top of The Rim in four to seven minutes. Several of us PRD employees that were working on the fireline witnessed a Squad of Hot Shots quickly on scene were unable to control a spot fire the size of a vehicle. Thus, this was a very notable forewarning for the impending Dude Fire a month later. It certainly was for those experienced and knowledgeable enough to appreciate the true value of this significant precursory weather and fire behavior feature.
But for many others, not so much.
At approximately 12:30 PM on June 25, 1990, a dry lightning storm triggered a fire beneath the Mogollon Rim near Dry Dude Creek about 10 miles northeast of Payson, Arizona. This area is located on the Payson Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest (TNF). Conditions were such (high day and nighttime temperatures, low relative humidity; fuel beds consisted of large accumulations of dense, heavy, decadent chaparral with Ponderosa Pine overstory and needle drape, and several years of below normal precipitation) that the fire burned quickly and aggressively, spotting over a mile to the East that first day. This June 25th spot fire may very well have been the spot fire that "showed up" on June 26th, distracting a lot of key personnel.
Figure 7b. Snippet image of June 25, 1990 1502 (3:02 PM) aggressive fire behavior photo. Source:
You Tube, Dude Fire Fatality Case Study
Payson Helitack and Payson HS initial attacked it by helicopter and ground transport up Dry Dude Creek. The Helitack Crew was in a Safety Zone within 15 minutes.
"Gus Tellez, who was part of the Dude Fire [Payson Helitack] crew, told The Arizona Republic in 2010 that he remembered clearing undergrowth and cutting trees when he arrived at the fire near Dude Creek. The blaze - about a quarter-acre in size - initially didn't seem dangerous but soon started shooting out spot fires. "Once it established itself, this thing got up, it ran, it chased us out of there," Tellez said during that 2010 interview. "And it was off to the races, taking out anything in front of it." (emphasis added) (AZ Rep 7/1/13)
Figure 7c. Snippet image (blurry) from a video segment of June 25, 1990, aggressive fire behavior photo. Source: You Tube, Dude Fire Fatality Case Study
At the behest of an indignant USFS management that allowed his personal sentiments to override his professional judgement, Schoeffler would be relegated to a Field Observer position and disallowed from "supervising WFs or making any tactical or strategical decisions" per the District Ranger. This "management direction" was also passed on to both of the Fire Bosses on the Bray Creek and Dude Fires. However, fortuitously I (DF) was later "allowed" to supervise over 80 personnel during the rehab status of the fire which was a key mitigating factor in my Merit System Protection Board Review case with their Order in my favor. Needless to say, management was livid!
Figure 7b. Putting Down the "Dude Fire" Source: YouTube, WLF LLC USDA USFS SW Region
"This video [above] was produced by the USDA Forest Service - Southwest Interagency Coordination Center, in association with the Tonto National Forest." So then, you know these folks have an agenda and ulterior motive to pursue besides their alleged "Education" category listed below the video.
I (DF) don't recall who the IA Fire Boss was at the time. As a Field Observer, I was encouraged to attend the Class Two Team in-briefing, including District and Forest personnel, and the Forest Fire Staff (FMO). I am glad I went, it was definitely an eye opener. Once the in-briefing was over the Tonto NF FMO stated: '... By the way, I have already ordered a Class One Team with the transition to occur at noon.' This was a common SW Area noon transition time in those days, that thankfully ceased because of what occurred on the fatal Dude Fire.
Needless to say, the Class Two Team personnel were pretty upset about that, saying things like: 'we haven't even been on the fire yet' and 'you never gave us a chance to prove ourselves' and the like. This would later come into play because the Class Two Team personnel were reluctant to let go of the operations - especially the Walk Moore Canyon / Bonita Creek Subdivision firing operation.
Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes, and Safety Zones (LCES) did in fact originate from the Dude Fire with Zig Zag HS Supt. Paul Gleason's paper, however, many Hot Shot Crews and other WFs had been practicing this LCES concept all along without the "official" LCES label.
Consider the Doce Fire anomaly. Looking back on the June 30, 2013, Yarnell Hill Fire - ironically and rather strangely - the Perryville Crew, like the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, had also worked on a Doce Fire on the Prescott NF beginning on June 18th. Perryville was assigned to the 1990 Doce Fire from June 13 to 16. They did a good job and some overhead and others suggested that they attempt HS status. They even painted their hardhats the same Tequila Sunrise colors as the Payson HS.
Figure 8. Dude Fire map sign and the trailhead with an explanatory sign to the left (not shown)
May 23, 2020, 10:57AM Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 8a. Dude Fire Trailhead parking interpretive sign. Source: Wildfire Today
Figure 9a. Student, Jeremy Fultz, at Dude Fire Trailhead doing his S-131 "Squad Boss" Briefing Field Exercise May 23, 2020, 10:57AM. Photo Source: Joy A Collura
Remember, Jeremy is gaining "Wildland Terminology and Tools" to further his Firewise knowledge for his end goal to be a Fire Mitigation Specialist ( NFPA ). Where Ryan Helms, the other student, had his eyes set on the local Municipal Fire agencies for a few Fire Seasons; and he was ready-to-go as of 5/28/20, after his successful pack test. And was able to go to his first wildfire (Ocotillo) in Arizona within a couple weeks!
Figure 10. Walk Moore Canyon sign along Control Road Source: Joy A Collura
What follows describes almost exactly the Thermal Belt induced, forceful, humbling, and most impressive fire behavior that we witnessed during the early morning hours of June 26, 1990. This was the testimony from a TNF PRD Engine WF listed in the "Dude Fire fatality Investigation - Fire behavior chronology from interviews" Public Record.
"By 0300 (June 26), the main fire was within one-quarter mile of the Bonita Creek Estates structures. Engines moved into position to make a stand. A person watching the fire from the Bonita Creek Estates subdivision for one hour beginning at 0200 noted that the falling embers quickly grew to spot fires. He watched the fire move in and out of the crowns. It would run for 60-90 seconds, die down for 5-10 minutes, and then run again. The fire would spot, start new fires, and then the main fire would catch up to these spot fires. The brisk down-canyon winds continued to push the fire to approximately 500 acres by 0500. At this time the winds subsided and the fire lay down – keeping it away from the Bonita Creek Estates structures." (emphasis added) Source: WFLDP Staff Ride Field Guide
In the early morning hours on June 26th around 0330, I (DF) called the Bonita Creek Structure Protection DIVS / Group Supervisor and asked what they had accomplished in Bonita Creek. His reply to me was "Nothing."
A short Incident Command System (ICS) digression is necessary here. A Division Supervisor is responsible for a Geographic piece of ground, (i.e. Tanner Peak to the Rose Creek and 44 Road junction). Whereas a Group Supervisor is responsible for a specific Function, (i.e. Bonita Structure Group or a general, roving Structure Protection Group).
In the "heat of battle" or the "fog of war" a potentially serious problem may arise if clear Chain of Command is left unexplained, unspecified, unclear, unsettled, or less than clear instructions are given and understood - who works for who when things go haywire? As occurred on the Dude Fire, do the Structure Protection personnel that work for them initially still work for them after the Division above them breaches, spots, or slops over, and runs through the structures you are supposedly protecting? Once again, "who is working for who" when this happens? This needs to be crystal clear before you engage in anything like this. You should still work for the
same Structure Protection personnel within the newly expanded Division. This also occurred on the June 30, 2013, YH Fire.
Consider now the Bonita Creek Structure Protection DIVS / Group Supervisor's reply to my (Field Observer) task accomplishment question at 0300 hours. It was really simple - "Nothing" he said. I told him about the fire behavior we were witnessing and told him that he had better be ready. Unbelievably, about 0430, I overheard him calling the Logistics, Supply Unit ordering about 'forty sets of Nomex and forty fire shelters.' So that means that the above statement that at "0300" the video statement that "Engines moved into position to make a stand" is really stretching the bounds of fact and the truth.
The lion's share of the Engines in the Bonita Creek subdivision were Structural / Municipal Type One Engines (aka 'Pavement Queens') from the general Phoenix area. And so one can easily infer that they had been up there working all this time without proper wildland firefighting clothing and without fire shelters. Anybody else thinking there was any complacency, leadership, safety, or situational awareness issues?
On the morning of June 26th, we had five Out-of-Region 6 (R6) Hot Shot Crews arrive on our fire by ground transportation. Given the option, they eagerly accepted going to the fireline to work versus standing by and resting in Fire Camp. For most of these Crews, the was their first fire of the season and for many of the Crewmembers it was the very first wildfire. Along the Fuller Creek Rd with a dozer and a few R6 HS Crews, while attempting to brief them on the fire behavior we had been experiencing and local factors who arrogantly would not listen to local factors info from us. They told me something like: 'These are sticks and twigs, we come from the big tree forests where we have real forest fires.' Firing out along the Fuller Creek Road heading to Control Rd, I (DF) mentioned that we 'need to coordinate with the Bonita Creek subdivision Crews.' One of the Oregon R6 HS Foreman working further North said something like: 'I have a small island of brush that I need / want to burn out.' I told him to back it through. He said it was small and he wanted to head fire it. I said no head fire, to back it through the pocket instead. The next thing I see out of the corner of my eye is a dark black smoke rolling up the slope toward us and "surf wave" once it hit our ridgetop and beyond and that intensified the smoldering hot fireline perimeter to the Southeast and above the Bonita Creek subdivision. Walking out I could see fire behavior intensify along that entire perimeter.
On the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire, The Dude Fire wildland fire weather once again played a significant role in alerting some WFs to imminent danger. "Large drops of icy cold rain were felt by crews, and briefly mistaken for water from the engine hoses used for structure protection. Tony Sciacca, Foreman of the Prescott IHC, noticed that smoke was beginning to settle at the feet of the crews, this made him uncomfortable and decided to pull their crew out and into the safety zone. They walked past Alpine on the way to the safety zone and told Alpine crewmembers they were pulling out. ..."
Sciacca would later recount this story at an AZ Wildfire Academy briefing. It played a major role on the June 30, 2013, Yarnell Hill Fire preventing a Sun City West Engine Task Force from being burned over and possibly killed .
"The spritz of rain was the final warning sign for Darby Starr. As the Fire District of Sun City West’s engine boss for wildlands fire assignments, Starr and three colleagues — one each from Sun City West, Peoria and Glendale — had seen the late-afternoon winds become terribly erratic as they helped fight the Yarnell Hill blaze on June 30, 2013. Starr noticed what seemed to be fire moving in the opposite direction of where it had been headed all day. He even thought he heard some claps of thunder.
"Then came the spritz of rain. As soon as I felt that rain, that’s when I decided we needed to pull out,” he said.
"It was a decision colleagues believe prevented further loss of firefighter lives in the blaze that claimed 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots in the deadliest day for U.S. Forest Service firefighting since 1933.
"I was at the front of the line, right against this hill. It was about 200 feet high. I kept watching fire that seemed to be moving in the opposite direction it had been moving all day. I set a ‘trigger point,’ which was when the fire topped the hill, it was time to go. Shortly after that, I heard thunder. I got that spritz in the face, I turned around, looked at the hill, and fire was over the hill. I told my guys, ‘Let’s go.’”
"As he led the team away from the scene along a planned escape route to a safety zone, the veteran of 20 years wildlands firefighting recalled conditions he had never seen.
“I’d never experienced that kind of fire heat. I’d never seen fire heat so violent. It was astonishing to see exactly how violent this could be and the rate it was moving at. Even in our safety zone, we were crouching behind our truck because of the heat waves we were getting.”
“... Captain Starr remained calm and collected. Had Captain Starr not ordered our expedited retreat to the truck, I believe we may have been trapped and would have to deploy our shelters,” Boggler stated in a written report. Both of the other two firefighters and myself feel Captain Starr prevented a second tragedy.”
"Starr credited experience and training for his decision-making, including a story from a wildfire academy earlier last year, part of the Sun City West’s year-round wildlands-firefighter training. As the academy director addressed his class, he discussed June 1990’s Dude Fire near Payson, which killed six firefighters ..." (all emphasis added above)
According to WTKTT on IM, there may have been another FF responsible. "Peeples valley FF Jake Mode said HE decided to ‘get out’ when he had a visual of flames coming over the ridge above them. Captain Darby Starr won a VFW AWARD for his “heroic actions on the Yarnell fire… but other testimony attributes the ‘get out’ order as coming from Jake Moder, and NOT Darby Starr." (emphasis added) ( https://www.investigativemedia.com/please-begin-yarnell-hill-fire-chapter-xix-here/#comment-324130 )
You will want to check this guy’s Student of Fire website out. He posted from 2016 until 2018 and then kinda quit. WTF? ( http://studentoffire.org/ )
And another link ( http://studentoffire.org/index.php/sample-page/ )
“About Student of Fire - “The idea for this website came from my growing enthusiasm for SEEKING OUT WISDOM ANYWHERE IT COULD BE FOUND. This is my fifth season in fire and it seemed a good way for generating ideas and pursuing them further. But going from firefighter to student of fire, I owe that to Paul Gleason among others.” (emphasis added)
“During a recent 2800-mile road trip to the southwest, I MADE A SITE VISIT TO THE 1990 DUDE FIRE and attended a staff ride in Arcadia California for the Loop Fire of 1966. While revisiting the documents tied to those incidents – THINGS LIKE INVESTIGATION REPORTS, newspaper articles, old photographs and maps – one thing became ingrained in me. It was A SPEECH PAUL GLEASON MADE IN 1996 … honoring those killed 30 years earlier in the Loop Fire. “UNFORTUNATELY, MUCH OF OUR KNOWLEDGE AND LESSONS LEARNED ABOUT WILDLAND FIRE HAVE BEEN GAINED ONLY THROUGH THE HIGH COST OF FIREFIGHTER’S LIVES.” (emphasis added)
The Student of Fire aptly noted that “IT TAKES COURAGE TO STAND UP TO THE STATUS QUO, TO THE WAY THINGS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN, AND SAY I THINK WE CAN DO BETTER, I THINK WE SHOULD DEMAND MORE FROM OURSELVES.” (emphasis added)
“[Starr] was talking about the weather conditions he was experiencing, the fire behavior he was seeing. He mentioned he got spritzed with rain, and that was just strange enough for him to turn around and go back the other direction. He had been headed right for the guys who were burned over,” Starr recalled. “At the Yarnell Hill fire, I started seeing that strange fire behavior. ...”
Source: Sun City West fire captain wins national honor for decision during Yarnell Hill blaze. Jeff Grant, DAILY NEWS-SUN Jul 18, 2014
( https://www.eastvalleytribune.com/arizona/yourwestvalley/sun-city-west-fire-captain-wins-national-honor-for-decision-during-yarnell-hill-blaze/article_b45e044e-ff70-5326-a7fa-16b09de28e9f.html )
"Large drops of icy cold rain were felt by crews, and briefly mistaken for water from the engine hoses used for structure protection. Tony Sciacca, Foreman of the Prescott IHC, noticed that smoke was beginning to settle at the feet of the crews, this made him uncomfortable and decided to pull their crew out and into the safety zone. They walked past Alpine on the way to the safety zone and told Alpine crewmembers they were pulling out. ..." (all emphasis added)
Source: Sun City West fire captain wins national honor for decision during Yarnell Hill blaze. Jeff Grant, DAILY NEWS-SUN Jul 18, 2014
( https://www.eastvalleytribune.com/arizona/yourwestvalley/sun-city-west-fire-captain-wins-national-honor-for-decision-during-yarnell-hill-blaze/article_b45e044e-ff70-5326-a7fa-16b09de28e9f.html )
Figure 11. James E. Ellis, 34, Perryville Crew died on the Dude Fire Source: Joy A Collura
The placement of this tragic-event location symbol is somewhat of an anomalous circumstance because Ellis' cross is the first evidence of fatalities on this fire as you hike along the Dude Fire - Walkmore Moore Canyon Trail. Chronologically, however, this one is peculiarly out of order, and you will find out why.
"Ellis left his shelter. He walked to the creek bed, near Hoke, who was still tucked safely inside his tent. 'I'm hurt bad,' Ellis said. "My shelter didn't work." ( https://theweek.com/articles/462521/tragic-tale-another-deadly-arizona-wildfire ) The WFLDP Staff Ride Facilitator's Field Reference Guide reports it a little differently. "Ellis traveled from his initial deployment site down canyon, then went back up canyon, met others coming down, and was escorted back down canyon with Latour, Davenport, and Love to this location where he exclaimed 'I’m dead' then laid down and expired."
Additionally, at the above photo location, NWCG reported that he died off the dozer line / road in Walk Moore Canyon proper, below his cross.
Figures 12a. and 12b. Right photo indicates actual deployment site in Walk Moore Canyon creek-bed and left photo is the current location along the trail. Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 13. Lead Instructor and Student walking to Dude Fire Stand Two Source: Joy A Collura
Hopefully, you may be wondering why the Fire Team chose to use Walk Moore Canyon, basically a chimney and chute, as a primary control feature. Because the Fire Boss and Line Boss thought it was a good idea, with NO input from anyone else, (e.g. DIVS, Hot Shot Supts., no one)!
On the afternoon of June 25th, a local contractor bulldozer was used to improve the Walk Moore Canyon two-track road (old logging road) until it got dark, and then had to shut down. The fireline overhead ignored my (DF) repeated suggestions made early-on to get the GSA Dozer Light Kit out of the local Payson RD fire cache. The DIVS ordered dozers that evening. They never showed.
Figure 13a. Dude Fire typical June 1990 fuel bed indicating chaparral ladder fuels underneath dense Ponderosa Pine snippet. Source:You Tube, Dude Fire Fatality Case Study
Figure 14. Lead Instructor and Student walking to Dude Fire Stand Two Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 15. Retired Fire Chief and Wildland Fire Fatality Historian waiting at Dude Fire Stand Two Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 16. Dude Fire Stand Two at Walk Moore Canyon and Power Line ROW which is out-of-sight and uphill to the right and the eventual Fatality Site is straight ahead. Source: Joy A Collura
According to public records, the June 25-26, 1990, tactical assignment for the Perryville Crew, per the DIVS, was to clear a fireline up the jeep trail inside Walk Moore Canyon and then up the power line right-of-way into the Bonita Creek Estates subdivision. And who's idea was that? And that was a good tactical decision because why ... ?
More importantly, did anyone on Perryville really think that it was or would have been a good idea to scout out Walk Moore Canyon from this point up to what would become the eventual Fatality Site? The Plumas Hot Shots sure did.
The morning of June 26, 1990, recollections and reflections from a Flathead HS are exceptionally insightful: "When we passed Perryville on the way up Walkmore Canyon to the subdivision; they were sitting there from a night shift and they all had thousand mile stares. What I had heard was that they were just letting them 'work' another shift by standing by and really had no business being out there. ... They had gotten up and repositioned themselves which probably is what killed them." (Flathead HS) Did the Investigation Team know about this and /or delve into this? And if they did know about it, did that play into their SAIT decision making?
Figure 16a. Video Snippet of Walk Moore Canyon and HS Crew progression (bottom to top - Alpine, Prescott, Flathead, Zig Zag, Redmond, Plumas. Source: WLF LLC Dude Fire Case Study, YouTube
Figure 16b. Video Snippet of Walk Moore Canyon and (top to bottom) HS Crews with Perryville and Navajo Crews lower. Source: WLF LLC Dude Fire Case Study, YouTube
There appears to be an anomaly here in the video with the positioning of the two alleged lower Crews. First off, according to the above video narration the DIVS was unaware of the Perryville and Navajo Scouts Crew in Walk Moore Cyn. in his Division. The other more interesting thing is in the video Snippet, the Navajo Scouts location is below the Perryville Crew because the video claims: "Upon hearing and seeing the Navajo Scouts crew running past them, Perryville crewmembers started seeing the fire above them. They all began running down the line toward the Control Road. ... a Navajo Scout told him 'don’t stop, the flame is on you.'" (emphasis added)
The Navajo Scouts would have had to been above the Perryville Crew to "running past them" and "running down the line." Right?
Here is what the PACM recalls prior to that Navajo Scouts warning: "We were on the opposite side of [W]alkmoore [C]anyon. We had solid contact with the Navajo crew and we were told they had the safety watch and lookouts covered as we were working line and sawyers were doing their thing downing trees back from [behind] the Dozer line. I was at the top off the hill directly between both crews."
It sounds like some of the Navajo Scouts were acting as a Lookout based on their "Safety Watch and Lookouts" with those statements. And it's unclear what he is referring about with him "between both crews" other that just explaining what his location was.
One of the Flathead HS supervisors stated: "They [Perryville ??] went down the canyon ahead of the burn out operation, we just exchanged firing and holding with the Zig Zag Crew, and so they were holding and we had just started lighting and then a big calm went over we felt some moisture and I thought it might be from the hose spray of the structure group that was above us in the Bonita Estates. ... I held the crew back from lighting anymore ... we waited and then [our Supt.] called for our trauma kit so I sent the EMT down with the trauma kit and then the three of them start hustling back into view with the burn victim and [Supt.] was huffing and puffing and yelling out to grab our fire shelters I told everybody to get back to the road and back to the safety zone and not deploy the fire shelters."
Kudos are definitely in order here. He too noted the sudden weather change ("a big calm") he held up the firing operation. And obviously, this was also a wise call by an experienced WF supervisor to impress upon his Crew to refrain from deploying fire shelters and utilize your Escape Route instead.
Watch Out No. 15 used to include when the "wind stops." Sounds like it's time to re-establish that again
The June 25-26, 1990, tactical assignment for the Perryville Crew, per the DIVS, was to clear a fireline up the jeep trail inside Walk Moore Canyon
Did anyone on Perryville really think that it was or would have been a good idea to scout out Walk Moore Canyon from this point up to what would become the eventual Fatality Site? The Plumas Hot Shots did.
Figure 16c. Dude Fire Fatality Case Study video. Good overall video with live documentary and animated footage revealing fuels, weather, topography, fire behavior, personnel, maps, tactics and strategy, and much more. Source: Wildland Fire LLC, YouTube
Figure 17. Heading to Dude Fire Stand Three along Power Line ROW Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 18. Walking through Bonita Creek subdivision to Dude Fire Stand Three (Corner House) Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 19. Dude Fire Stand Three (Corner House) Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 19a. Dude Fire Stand Three Corner House in right foreground as structure burns behind it on June 26, 1990. Source: NWCG Leadership Toolbox Dude Fire Staff Ride
Consider now some key excerpts from the "Dude Fire Staff Ride - Why Did They Die?" video in Figure 19b. Bear in mind, that this was the very first USFS Wildland Fire Fatality Staff Ride, and so they wanted to make a good product and a good impression. And so, what you will experience is their over-the-top enthusiastic effort to foist onto a numb, shocked, and empathetic world of WFs, FFs, and the American public this Orwellian propaganda, Party Line drivel, misinformation, disinformation, indoctrination, and riddled with Half-truths.
"The Dude Fire also inspired the first-ever U.S. Forest Service Staff Ride, a kind of case study modeled after those conducted by the U.S. military at important battle sites, bringing firefighters to scenes of past accidents or near-miss fires, where flames could have killed, but didn't, to better understand decisions made at the time and to improve future fire-suppression efforts." (emphasis added) (Joyce)
Wildland firefighting burnover fatalities are definitely NOT "past accidents or near-miss fires, where flames could have killed, but didn't."
And "to better understand ... to improve future fire-suppression efforts" is kinda worthless when what we really need to examine are the causal human factors and errors and NOT the "future fire-suppression efforts."
In other words, delving into this historical wildland fire fatality after all these years reveals the self-same, rote pattern of "Conclusions first and then 'facts' to fit them in all wildland fire fatalities. And so, as expected, they expertly utilized the narrated "Dude Fire Staff Ride" YouTube video by Public Resource Org. to indoctrinate the WF and FF masses.
Briefly consider this ignoble cretin and his surprisingly effective enlightenment strategy.
The Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Goebbels, a one-time journalist, wrote: “Any man who still has a residue of honor will be very careful not to become a journalist.”
Propaganda. which is information intended to persuade an audience to accept a particular idea or cause, often by using biased material or by stirring up emotions, as one of the most powerful tools Goebbels and the Nazis used. Goebbels wrote in his diary, "No one can say your propaganda is too rough, too mean; these are not criteria by which it may be characterized. It ought not be decent nor ought it be gentle or soft or humble; it ought to lead to success." After researching the Dude Fire, it is easy to infer that this particular wildland fire fatality propaganda was less a separate stream of information, and was instead embedded in all of the existing information streams in the wildland fire culture and has indeed "[led] to success" verily guaranteeing "incomplete" lessons learned.
And this would also become a cornerstone of the USFS propaganda that began with the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire fatalities on the Helena NF in Montana.
What follows is taken from the "Dude Fire Staff Ride - National Advanced Fire and Resource Institute 1998 video - Re-released in 2005 from 1998 Fire Behavior Analyst Workshop that focused on this tragedy wildland-urban interface wildfire." ( http://www.fs.usda.gov/sites/default/files/legacy_files/fire-management-today/62-4.pdf )
Consider now the USFS [Dis]Information Officer Dave Thomas Fire Management Today article: "With the Dude Fire Staff Ride, we applied the framework of the military staff ride to a plume dominated wildland fire that blew up outside of Payson, AZ, in June 1990, killing six firefighters. This staff ride was part of a national interagency fire behavior workshop in Phoenix, AZ, in March 1999." and "The lessons learned by participants in a staff ride are usually individual, personal, not easily categorized, and filled with emotion. The expectation is that individuals will form their own conclusions and then, after talking and listening to other participants, form a shared vision of what happened." and "The staff ride is not a lecture or field trip. The basic assumptions used in developing the Dude Fire Staff Ride were:
These two sentence excerpts suggest at least some Groupthink by starting with their "individual, personal ..." statement: "The lessons learned ... are usually individual, personal, not easily categorized, and filled with emotion. The expectation is ... form their own conclusions and then, ... form a shared vision of what happened."
• "There may be no one correct answer or chain of events leading up to the fatalities;
• "Wildland fires are complex natural events that commonly defy honest attempts to think through and understand them;
• "Hindsight often creates misperceptions of what actually occurred on a fire; and
• "The root cause of the Dude Fire tragedy may never be fully known."
In response to the above, we feel the need to dissect this Orwellian nugget rife with logical fallacies and Weasel-wording. The USFS are correct that there "may be no one correct answer or chain of events" because there are many "correct answer[s] or chain of events" leading up to the fatalities.
In response, more Weasel-wording here as well. "Wildland fires are complex natural events that commonly defy honest attempts to think through and understand them." Indeed, wildland fires are complex natural events, however, for decades there have been competent WFs and FFs practicing the principles of Entrapment Avoidance, (e.g. 10 & 18, LCES, Watch Outs, etc.) while safely managing themselves and those they supervise. Obviously, those that are bewildered and mystified by "... honest attempts to think through and understand them" should probably board the train of those WFs and FFs that know and understand and mitigate and follow the Basic WF Rules - with excellent results.
Yes indeed, it does."Hindsight often creates misperceptions of what actually occurred on a fire," however, consistent in-depth research will almost always get to the core and the truth. On the other hand, those that would unethically and disingenuously conceal the truth are the ones that actually "create misperceptions of what actually occurred on a fire."
"The root cause of the Dude Fire tragedy may never be fully known" is a half-truth and a classic self-fulfilling prophecy that requires Reactance Theory to counter it. Reactance theory says that we dislike people telling us how to think, what to do, etc. so then we will want it, seek it out, etc.
The definition of "A root cause is an initiating cause of either a condition or a causal chain that leads to an outcome or effect of interest. The term denotes the earliest, most basic, 'deepest', cause for a given behavior; most often a fault. The idea is that you can only see an error by its manifest signs." (emphasis added) (Wikipedia)
Let the Dude Fire Fairy Tale journey begin. What follows is from the "Dude Fire Staff Ride - National Advanced Fire and Resource Institute 1998 video in Figure 19b. - Re-released in 2005 from  Fire Behavior Analyst Workshop that focused on this tragedy Wildland Urban Interface wildfire.
The Narrator asks: "What happened on the Dude Fire? Did human factors contribute to the fatalities? What can these people's deaths teach us? To answer these question the Forest Service hosts a Staff Ride. This new training tool using a proven military technique proves to be a wildland fire learning first."
We obviously know what happened on the Dude Fire. And for those that know much at all about accidents, safety, and wildland fire fatalities, we know for a fact that human factors contributed to those fatalities. And we also know that we can learn a great deal about "what these people's deaths [can] teach us" when proper, honest, truthful investigations are performed by likewise investigators, and if and when we are told the truth about the causal factors.
Narrator: "The Dude Fire Staff Ride. Why was it such a success? What can it teach us?" They are presupposing it matter-of-factly, leading you along, as if it is already a success instead of asking the readers if it was a success.
And then there is the TNF PRD FMO: "I thought I knew the Dude Fire intimately. And I did. But doing the Dude Fire Staff Ride totally changed some of my perceptions. The Staff Ride made me think about fatality or near-miss fires and we generate this picture of what went wrong. But I now realize that unless you get into it in the depth we did on the Staff Ride, you really don't understand." (emphasis added)
Because Mr. Velasco drank the Dude Fire Kool-Aid, he is letting us know that the USFS mind-warping thing was successful, because it sure worked on him. The one who said he wouldn't change a thing in an anniversary local newspaper article.
These following, somewhat chilling statements and recollections by an experienced HS and two experienced HS supervisors are especially interesting and insightful.
The HS recalled that Prescott HS Foreman Sciacca during the night and early morning of June 25-26, 1990, had told him and others that he had a bad feeling about this fire.
"Walking up Walk Moore [Canyon] ... I said to my Crew Boss ... into the Valley of Death rode the 600. I don't know why I said that." Redmond HS
That was an amazing statement from an experienced WF who was paying heed to his intuition and "gut feelings." Likewise, another HS Supt. in the early morning hours of June 26th had a somewhat similar gut feeling that something bad was gonna happen when he made this comment: "I was in a death race. I felt that from the bottom of the canyon to here." Flathead HS
"Why did the Dude Fire Staff Ride have such an impact on the wildland fire people who experienced it? How can we carry the Staff Ride's valuable teachings and insight forward? Yes, how can we help prevent fatalities on all future wildland fires?" That was and is the heart of the Staff Ride. Narrator
The Dude Fire Staff Ride made such an impact on the wildland fire people who experienced it because they were fooled by the skillful USFS puppeteers. You can justly carry the Staff Ride's valuable teachings and insights forward by telling the truth about what happened and why, the causal and human factors that played a hand in the fatalities. On the contrary, we cannot "help prevent fatalities on all future wildland fires" because they are inevitable because people do dumb s**t. All we can do is our best to lessen and reduce them. That was and should be the heart of the Staff Ride.
And this from the Prescott HS Foreman is the first that I have heard of these weather and fire behavior events in Walk Moore Canyon before the fatal afternoon event: "We hit that cat line getting ready to do that firing operation and we got hit with a down-blast off The Rim, ... downslopes [winds] were probably in the neighborhood of 25 to 35 miles an hour. Fire pushed lateral and ran about half a mile in about 10 or 15 minutes. At that point we knew it was going to be a long and exciting night. Came back in here and tied in with ... at this point ... ties in with the Crew that had an assignment ... They started firing, tied into the black and started the firing operation with the overall plan ... I remember one of my young Squad Bosses is saying 'if it's burning like this now, just imagine what's it's gonna do at 1:00 [PM] ... ya know, there is some wise wisdom in that." (Prescott HS)
The two Univ. of Wyoming images below represent June 30, 1990, Skew-T images from Tucson, AZ indicating classic "Inverted-V" designating downdraft potential. See P. Andrews research paper link below Figure 37. from Winslow, AZ sounding showing almost identical image.
Figures 19a.1. + 19a.2. Tucson Skew-T Soundings (12Z - left) (00Z - right) with the classic 'Inverted-V" image indicating downdraft potential. Source: Univ. of Wyoming Dept. of Atmospheric Science
There was most definitely some wisdom in that young Squad Boss's statement and some interesting evidence and insight that supports the notion that the fire always signals its intentions ... and you can benefit from it if you are paying attention and mindful (LCES) of what it tells you.
A Redmond HS supervisor commented: "I was nervous about having too many parts in here that day ..." Are you noticing a pattern here with all these WF supervisors' gut feelings and the like? And yet, nobody seemed to follow through on anything ... except the Prescott HS Foreman regarding the imminent downdrafts and the ensuing fire behavior that triggered them to disengage.
On June 26th, the AGF was having an orientation training for their new Trainee Officers in Young, AZ. They watched a large thunderstorm build, travel up Canyon Creek to The Rim, and then West to and then over the Dude Fire. I (DF) was unaware of this developing Sword of Damocles, and I do not recall anyone alerting any of us on the firelines on the Command or TAC channels about this important fire weather development. Although, I'm fairly confident that Diamond Point Lookout noticed them and reported them on the Tonto FOREST NET.
These AGF Officers and Trainees were eventually resource ordered as Security Officers and to assist with the ensuing evacuation(s) that would take place. And they stated that the lower Fire Team administering the TNF was always "behind the power curve," (i.e. placing them at Tonto Village when it was unthreatened by any fire).
The AGF Officers and Trainees eventually had to assist in the local Tonto Creek area Baptist Camp evacuation. And according to one AGF Officer, it resembled the (1945) WW II Rangers, Alamo Scouts, and Philippine guerrillas under the leadership of Lt. Colonel Mucci and Captain Prince. Against all odds, they rescued 516 Allied POWs from the Cabanatuan, Philippines prison camp using locals with handcarts and a medley of other modes of transportation. ( https://arsof-history.org/articles/v14n2_cabanatuan_page_3.html )
Here Zig Zag Crew Boss Gleason and a Flathead HS verified that the DIVS himself was burning out with these comments: "[The] DIVS was burning and ... [I] talked with DIVS and [we] got more aggressive with the burnout that [where] the Safety Zone is and the heat that was released is / was our responsibility ... but we had 180 people up here ... and what we were burning was not going to make a difference, if ah [it] went sour and we all knew it was hunin'? and rockin."
A Flathead HS supervisor admitted that: "We all knew we made mistakes ourselves here. I made a mistake when I went thru camp and I didn't get any information even if it wasn't there, and it wasn't at the time. And I came up here, followed a DIVS ... I wouldn't do that. And I quit doing that after but ... the fact that there was information out there not getting to people should be a hint. ... Then don't send them out there .. put a roadblock down at the hill and let this place go, but ... "
The Alpine HS Crew Boss / Supt. stated: "With the support that was here, ... 140 to 180 by any estimate; personnel up in this subdivision protecting it, including six HS Crews; [there was] a plan in place to burn around the subdivision. Fire behavior that we were in observation of, at least what we could see, on the slope was non-threatening, really, it was actually working to our benefit ... if we could get this firing show around it [Bonita Creek Subdivision]. I felt like there was a pretty good probability of success ... at least this front of the subdivision. What we observed was very light. I estimated two, three, maybe four at best ... upslope, up canyon winds with a backing fire, and whether the burnout was progressing over there was affecting anything - from my perspective, no - it was not. That continued right on through 'til on my chronology, right about 1400 (2: PM) ... "
Figure 19b. Dude Fire - Perryville Fire Crew Entrapment video - Firefighters discuss the entrapment of the Perryville Fire Crew on the 1990 Dude fire. This is raw video footage from News Channel 12. Source: Wildland Fire LLC, Channel 12 News
Figure 19b1. Dude Fire - Perryville Fire Crew Entrapment video Comment by Navajo Scout Roe Hardhat. Source: Wildland Fire LLC, Channel 12 News
Some fairly good video footage revealing STLE Scopa radio conversations with Fire Team overhead regarding the recent Perryville Crew dozer line fire shelter deployment, fire behavior, a young Sciacca Prescott HS Crew, dozer improving Bonita Creek Safety Zone, Pete Libby was the Public Disinformation Officer, and News 12 Reporter gyrations regarding their Safety Zone. PDO Libby had his vehicle burned up in the Bonita Creek Subdivision with the other vehicles pictured in Figures 21a.+b. prior to this interview scene.
Interesting comments by Mr. Hardhat, indicating they may have also had NO lookout with his "when it blew it happened so fast [we] didn't have time to do anything but run like hell" ... "fire on both sides now" while verifying that they had escaped in the back of a vehicle statements. However, I will have to question his: "I seen the fire jump the freeway I couldn't believe what I just saw" statement. (emphasis added) Why? Because there is NO freeway anywhere near there by a few hundred miles!
This is a really interesting series of observations and statements about the current fire behavior. Our Fire Order #3 states: "Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire." And that is exactly what he was setting up to do. Keep burning. Everything seemed to be lined up in their favor to continue with their burning operation plan. Everything seemed to be aligned in their favor ... and yet everything was really aligned with some sinister, hidden disaster just waiting to come out of hiding. The quintessential calm before the storm as "they" say.
Unexpectedly, the Alpine Crew Boss / Supt. was startled with this instead: "Instant fire, I mean fire was, ya know, 150 yards away ... instant fire here, there, everywhere (as he points around). And growing quickly. [Flathead HS] Paul described the spot there that he dealt with the hose. There was no hose down here, there was just 50 mile an hour winds just pushing every single spot (as he turns and points) that took. And every spot did take." It was as if they were led down the ever-so-subtle primrose path of continuation bias and complacency and whatever other perceptual psychological glitch affected their decision making based on what they were experiencing.
The Zig Zag Crew Boss / Supt. stated: "We were working [burning out] down towards [Alpine HS]. At one point we heard that the fire got across the lower fire Control Road. We heard that it was ... the fire was on the other side threatening Bonita Estates and that there were shelters deployed." I (DF) recall hearing all this over the radio on TAC as well.
This is where the PACM explains the aggressive fire behavior indicators, and their June 26th (in)actions regarding their wildfire notification to run, warnings, and ultimate chaotic burnover and deployment:
"I got the news first (closest) and thanked God I showed up for all that PT [physical training]. I ran my ass off downhill. ( THE FIRE WAS AT OUR BACKS ABOUT FAR ENOUGH) we still thought we had beaten it. About 2/3 of the crew got through before the crowning dropped ( they later said it was an Eddy or ie whatever) For the life of me, I think it was a microburst event the way it dropped in front of us."
"There were 2 people closer to it than I was when it happened Ellis & Hoke. I started snatching my shelter out and recoiled back til I was second too (sic) the other end. About halfway there they (David La [Tour] something from [R]ural [M]etro [FD] out of Tucson) gave the order to deploy ( DUH)"
The PACM clarified his "second too the other end" comment as follows:
"When the fire dropped in front of Hoke & Ellis I was 3rd behind them. As I was breaking out my shelter and discarding my backpack, I was moving backwards towards the other end of the line 2nd from the end. I liked the area better for sheltering. [It was] Sandy with river rock mixed in." (emphasis added)
He then goes on to detail the fire fronts hitting them and the strong waves of winds.
"Lickity split I was deployed and we'll (sic) secured on the sides. I forgot that kind of fire creates high winds. That fire hit us. Literally. It was a BLAST almost like you would expect in a bomb explosion. ... but that's exactly how it felt. And there were 2 waves. Crowning and then the ground [surface] fuels ..."
"After the second wave subsided, I felt just the whisper of cooler air hit me. So, being a knucklehead I chewed [bit] my glove off and stuck my hand out"
This interaction would have been below the Corner House about halfway to the Perryville Deployment / Fatality Site and the Alpine HS Crew Boss / Supt. stated: "This is the approximate area where we observed [Perryville CM] Jeff Hatch, the injured FF walking up basically out of the smoke and fire. At this point the fire is making runs through the canopy and really threatening any position along this [dozer line that paralleled Walk Moore Canyon]. We were able to get the EMTs down here. We felt comfortable enough that ... but as soon as they arrived we knew that we were in a dire position, and we started moving back towards the [Bonita Creek] subdivision."
The Zig Zag HS Crew Boss / Supt stated: "[Alpine, Flathead, and Zig Zag Supts] were coming up the canyon and we have our Crew EMTs with us, a few of them. We got this guy Hatch that was ... on fire, he was burning up."
The Alpine Supt. stated: "There were approximately eight or nine people carrying the stretcher, and ya know, trying to secure our own safety at the same time. We stopped here. We knew the area had been burned by the Crews ahead of us and we knew there was [a] Safety Zone there, but you see the green here [fanning his left arm along the green pocket above the Corner House], and there was more green here where this house stood. There was smoke ... because the fire was blowing and a-going. We couldn't see exactly which direction to take, so we stopped." A wise choice to stop firing based on what they were experiencing, especially with green, unburned pockets of fuel around them and all the chaos.
Back to the Narrator making comments again: "At the next stand, Dave LaTour shared his experience. That day on the Dude Fire he was Crew Representative [CREP] for the Perryville Inmate Crew. They were improving the line down canyon from the Hot Shots and the sudden blowup entrapped Dave [LaTour], Hatch, and nine other Crewmembers."
What dramatic BS! "...and the sudden blowup entrapped Dave [LaTour], Hatch, and nine other Crewmembers." There was only a "sudden blowup that entrapped" them because he ignored all the indicators. There was nothing "sudden" about it.
Remember, at the Fatality Site, this series of remarkable statements: "The Perryville Crew Rep stated that the 'Navajo Scouts had run through their Crew telling them to get out, the fire was upon them.' Yet, they ignored that warning. Next, he stated that he had 'burning bark plates bouncing off my fire shirt' and ignored that too. Next, he stated that he had 'burning pine cones, sticks, and twigs bouncing off my fire shirt' and ignored that as well." And yet, they were still there - ignoring it all.!
The Narrator commented: "Cut off by flames from an easier down canyon escape, they tried to outrun the fire uphill, but could not [and] with no other alternative they were forced inside their fire shelters." What BS, what friggin drama. They had plenty of "other alternatives" while the Navajo Scouts warned them as well as the fire behavior indicators. And "forced inside their shelters?" Does that mean someone held a gun to their head and "forced" them?
LaTour stated: We ran back up to this point ... and the fire was coming over this ridgeline at that point and was getting quite close to us. It was probably less than ... certainly less than a couple hundred feet from us. At that point it crested the ridge and broke into a large wall of flames as it came over that ridge. ... At that point we knew we only had a few, maybe a minute left or so before the fire got to us. And so, the decision was made to deploy at this point. Quite frankly, we didn't want to deploy here [because] this is not what I would consider an ideal site to deploy. The situation really dictated that we deploy here. ... " Plenty of non-hindsight bias indicators and warnings here.
Accident Investigator Mangan made these interesting life threatening observations for future life saving lessons to be learned: "During that time there was some folks that obviously moved around and it was quite obvious that there was going to be some fatalities as a result of that. ... 45 minutes ... Bachman did not look like she had much worse than a first- or second-degree sunburn about her head and shoulders. Her hair was not singed badly. He Nomex was not damaged badly. So, the heat was the thing that got these folks when they got up and moved around. I'm sure that's what happened to Ellis, the person that walked out with them ... was he got up even though the flame front had passed, the heat was still there and he got up and he just had a longer term effect before he finally went down."
This is where the PACM begins to explain their individual time in their respective fire shelter deployments and whatnot and his Perryville Crew and CREP LaTour experienced. He is basically reliving this event thirty (30) years later here: "It was cool ( er ) so I sounded the all clear. I had heard the end of Curtis Springfield. He screamed he couldn't take it anymore. I think he was getting some super heated air below the sides of his shelter. He bolted, he was not in my view when I came out. It was myself, Donald Love, ah his name is was Dave LaTour. Were part of the group, we surveyed the dead no heartbeats no breathing. Chacon was laying across Sandra Bachman with the shelter twisted around his waist, only covering shoulder to hips. James Denny was alone and unsheltered. Alex Contreras the same. LaTour decided we would walk out to the service road along the fire line. His legs were burnt really badly. Mine were too. A small branch or something had fallen onto my shelter while deployed. We got to Hoke and Ellis up the trail a bit. Hoke had minimal damage, but James Ellis had his shelter on his head draping down behind him like a cape. Burned and still smoking. Ellis, not the shelter. Hoke was with Ellis. I had the luck to have to scream at LaTour when shock became apparent and he wandered off the Dozer line."
"Sandra [Bachman], by the way, never trained. She watched. I believe this is why Joe Chacon died. Joe trained hard."
"I walked the rest of the way out with him to keep an eye on him. We got to the road and flagged down a forestry truck. They took us to camp where we were air evacuated to [Maricopa] County Burn Center in Phoenix."
This WF experienced a great deal of trauma that day being surrounded by several of his fellow WFs that were also burned and survived and those that were burned and died. And all betrayed by their alleged supervisor Terra.
More of LaTour's incredible wisdom nuggets: "One of the things I think we have to stress is that to tell people what to expect when they get into the shelters. If you're doing shelter training material with people they have to know ... that they're gonna experience that kind of event and they're gonna have high winds, the shelters are gonna blow around, ... they may see and hear things outside the shelter." No s**t Sherlock? Ya think "they may see and hear things outside the shelter" with 30, 40, 50 mph fire-induced winds and the ever-so-typical freight train sound?
More of LaTour's lessons learned and wisdom: "And I think the key thing is to know absolutely without a doubt that if you get out of that shelter, you're gonna die. You have to make people understand that ... the best place for them to be is to stay and if they're getting burned they're still better off and they're probably gonna survive it as opposed to getting out of the shelter. Again my shelter delaminated and it folded over I made a real effort to keep my face away from that side, I turned away from that side, and had my arms away from that side and had my arms around my face and kept my face as low to the ground. I didn't have any heat related respiratory injuries and I'm sure it's because I stayed with my face close to the ground."
Remember to refer to and follow Dr. Ted Putnam's sage advice with his comments about examining the Perryville WF fire shirts being scorched from the waist up, with their bodies acting like a slope funneling hot gases into their airways. Based on this evidence and the fact that several of the WFs fireline packs scattered along the Walk Moore Canyon dozer line - never burned - so then, merely laying down on the ground to avoid those hot gases would have saved their lives that day.
One of the first Dude Fire Staff Ride participants made an astute observation and asked this insightful question: "If this ... the Crew finally had to take a stand, here this looks like the worst possible place to even think about setting up a fire shelter. I mean in this little depression surrounded by fuel that just can't hardly imagine that. I appreciate your comment on the survivability of this kind of a place where the fuels are so close to people."
Figure 19c. Dude Fire Staff Ride - National Advanced Fire and Resource Institute 1998 - Re-released in 2005 from  Fire Behavior Analyst Workshop that focused on this tragedy Wildland Urban Interface wildfire. Source: Public Resource Org
Alpine Supt. Mattingly made some fairly stunning comments here when he stated: "This [Corner] House is probably one of the most significant places in my entire career in fire because this is where I thought I had ... was the most opportunity or the most chance of dying. We hung out kinda in this forward area initially and once we were secure in getting there we took the injured FF up into the black, and at that point, I climbed that hill ... and located a helispot, and called some sawyers up from the various Crews to get that place opened up so we could pull him out of there."
Figure 20. Walking to Dude Fire Fatality site along June 30, 2013, dozer line adjacent to Walk Moore Canyon and above the creek bed to the right Source: Joy A Collura
Thank you to J.S. from Bonita Creek for allowing us to use your property to gain access to the Fatality Site area on May 23, 2020.
The WFLDP Guide states in many places several - allegedly intentional highly inaccurate claims in order to fit their narrative: "Crew locations were as follows: lowest and closest to the Control Road, was the Navajo Scouts Crew, then the Perryville Crew, the Alpine IHC was 50 to 100 yards above Perryville, the Prescott IHC was above Alpine near the corner house, then the Flathead IHC above Prescott, next was the Zig Zag IHC, then the Redmond IHC, and finally the Plumas IHC. By 1215 the hotshot crews finished the prep work at the corner house and the Plumas IHC began burning out the line. At this time, the main fire was backing slowly down the slope. Several instances of short-range spotting from the burnout occurred from 1100-1300. Because of the fire behavior, the burnout was stopped." (emphasis added) WFLDP Staff Ride Facilitator's Field Reference Guide
How is it that the WFLDP Guide has the "lowest and closest to the Control Road, was the Navajo Scouts Crew" when the Navajo Scouts, above the Perryville Crew, came down Walk Moore Canyon warning them to get out?
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, ... Proverbs 2:7
Figure 20a. A WF watches June 25th very active nighttime fire behavior from just below the top of The Rim. Source: AZ Republic
There is a wealth of good information in these Plumas HS phone interview quotes. Specifically, on the evening of June 25, 1990, one of the Plumas HS Supervisors stated: "... almost directly [N]orth of the Bonita Estates ... the [C]rews worked there until they realized the fire was outflanking them in its run to the [S]outh and [E]ast. All the [C]rews abandoned this line. Prescott IHC had shown up by this time and Plumas and Prescott made the decision to pull out to the area where [the] vehicles were staged. They were directed to the Bonita Estates to do structure protection, (prep work and burnout operations). Plumas walked up Walk Moore Canyon when it was still a 2-track prior to the dozer line construction. They passed Perryville when they [were] clearing the powerline right-of-way up to the Estates. ... [Two] Division Supervisors showed up at [June 26, 1990] 0930 and directed Plumas to get the burnout show on the road. ... [Plumas] distinctly remembers having [two] DIVS and they were 'chomping at the bit' to get the fire going. ... The [two] DIVS he figures to be about 1/3 of a mile above where the dozer line intersected the road in Bonita Estates."
"Spotting was immediately occurring on a small scale. Plumas was able to handle this, but the spotting intensified to the point it became a problem. The [two] DIVS were pushing the burnout, but [Plumas] tried to slow it down to keep a handle on it. They lost a spot that was left alone, because OPS directed [the two] DIVS to leave it an they would get an airtanker later. This is reflected in one of the witness statements of one of the DIVS, although he says they would catch it with a dozer. The burnout started about 1000-1030, [off] to the [E]ast, not one of the parallel roads to the [N]orth."
"The burnout continued down to the [E]states road dozer line intersection, where the Redmond Hot Shots took over the burning from Plumas. Plumas remained on the line they burned out, but the spots that were left unattended continued to grow and move noticeable off to the [E]ast. While Plumas was still up on the line another DIVS showed up, but this time it was one of the Type 1 team DIVS. [Plumas] made sure [DIVS] knew what was going on with the spotfires, the spotting, and the line. The weather changed with a strong downhill wind. Smoke was laying on the ground. [Plumas] felt extremely uncomfortable with [the] situation outside the line and up the hill and moved his [C]rew down the line to the [E]state road area, where the [E]ngines and other people were. This was at approximately 1200."
"As the fire situation deteriorated Plumas began looking for a safety zone and with the dozer that came down the road (presumably the dozer that build the line up the hill from the [E]states) they constructed a mineral soil SZ (safety zone) in the black burnout to the [W]est of the [E]states."
See Figure 28c. below
Clearly a couple of pushy DIVS ignoring basic firing operations protocol, (e.g. you fire and hold according to the conditions and you deal with (read "suppress") spot fires and slop-overs immediately)!
What follows below is the scanned actual Plumas HS phone interview (excerpted above) on November 17, 1990, elaborating on the June 25-26, 1990 events, particularly the operations of the evening of June 25th and into the morning and afternoon of the June 26th burnout operation around Bonita Creek.
Figure 20b. Plumas HS phone interview on November 17, 1990, elaborating on the June 25-26, 1990 events, particularly the operations of the evening of June 25th and into the morning and afternoon of the June 26th burnout operation around Bonita Creek. Source: Schoeffler
The Plumas HS memo above content is corroborated by the Flathead HS supervisor recollections: "We were getting pushed to burn and bump ahead too quickly on the Dude Fire. ..."
Figure 21. Heading to Dude Fire Site Visit Fatality Area and stopped here to talk about the alleged Perryville Crew Lookout Source: Joy A Collura
During the 1999 initial Dude Fire Staff Ride, at the Fatality Site, (Figure 7a.) the Perryville Crew Rep stated that he was the Crew lookout. However, when asked whether he was the "designated" lookout, he said that he would occasionally hike up out of the canyon to look around at the fire and then back down to work with the Crew again.
Figure 21a. Dude Fire News Footage # - Raw news file footage from the 1990 Dude fire in Arizona. This video may include footage of the Bonita Creek Estates neighborhood before and after the fire. Source: WLF LC, YouTube
A designated lookout is just that - a lookout - specifically assigned and and staying in place throughout the operational period or whatever / wherever the supervisor needs them to be doing to properly perform their crucial task. Maybe this was on Mr. Gleason's mind when he established the LCES principle.
Figure 21b. Helicopter news photo snippet of burnt lowboy tractor trailer and Contractor Fuel Truck. Source:
Figure 22. Departing view (looking back) of the Dude Fire Fatality Area (red oval) Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 23. Discussion on Dude Fire Events that the retired Fire Chief never heard before. Source: Joy A Collura
Dude Fire documentation has the OPS and others observing benign backing fire into Walk Moore Canyon and thinking nothing of it. Was this during the same period that the Alpine HS Supt. was also noticing this kind of fire behavior/ The calm before the storm ...
Once again, during the 1999 initial Dude Fire Staff Ride, at the Fatality Site, the Perryville Crew Rep stated that the 'Navajo Scouts had run through their Crew telling them to get out, the fire was upon them.' Yet, they ignored that warning. Next, he stated that he had 'burning bark plates bouncing off my fire shirt' and ignored that too. Next, he stated that he had 'burning pine cones, sticks, and twigs bouncing off my fire shirt' and ignored that as well. And you're still there?
They finally started to head back down Walk Moore Canyon toward the Control Road when he noticed the aggressive fire behavior was entering down into Walk Moore thru numerous little saddles and chutes from "above them" to the West, and so they turned back up the canyon.
The WFLDP Guide states in much more graphic detail: "... at [approx.] 1415 ... Upon hearing and seeing the Navajo Scouts crew running past them, Perryville crewmembers started seeing the fire above them. They all began running down the line toward the Control Road. ... a Navajo Scout told him “don’t stop, the flame is on you." ... looked back at that point ... and saw what looked to him like a volcano. ... looked back and could see only a wall of flame. ... saw the crewmembers in front of him round a corner with fire crossing right behind them. ... LaTour ordered the Perryville crew to deploy shelters. ... ” (emphasis added) And finally, after all the warnings and indicators and aggressive fire behavior "LaTour ordered the Perryville crew to deploy shelters." That is just unf**king believable! Source: WFLDP Guide
A Payson Roundup new article has a similar take: "But back up the canyon, the flames had cut the Perryville crew in half, trapping most of them in the upper reaches of the canyon. Those cut off were only 15 or 20 seconds behind those who escaped. But halfway to the Control Road a terrifying wave of fire swept across their path."
"They staggered backward from the withering heat, then turned and ran back up the slope, away from the flames. LaTour saw them running up the hillside toward him. 'There was a solid wall of fire behind them. It was roaring and solid black,' he recalled later." (July 28, 2017)
See the Figure 28 + 28a. maps of the individual Crewmember positions and their respective gear indicates some panic and mayhem. The Investigators stated the fact that their gear was individually numbered to correspond with a specific WF made their accountability mapping much easier.
Figure 23a. Topographic map indicating June 26, 1990, hand-drawn fire perimeter and dozer line represented by dashed lines ("- - - -") between 1400 and 1500 hours. Source: AUSA Johns (RiP)
Figure 23b. Topographic map indicating June 26, 1990, hand-drawn ("x x x x") dozer lines, "Corner House with 4 Structure Engines," dozered Safety Zone, where the burnout stopped, and unsure if the dozer fireline ("x x x x") continued to the north. It correctly notes that the line"was not anchored at the top." I recall that some claimed on June 25-26 that it was "tied [anchored] into a water tank" Source: Flathead HS
Have you been wondering: Where was the Perryville Crew Boss during all this? According to the WFLDP Staff Ride Field Guide: "[Perryville] Crew Boss Larry Terra took crewmember Fred Hill left the fireline to get supplies, leaving Assistant Crew Boss Sandra Bachman in charge with the Crew Representative LaTour." This was Bachman's first wildfire. Did LaTour and Bachman know that he was gone? Did he leave Bachman a radio? Did he really take someone else with him? It says he "left the fireline to get supplies." Yes indeed he did, so there's more to this story.
Some excellent advice and lessons learned on protecting your airways. Investigator Dr. Ted Putnam has several photos of individual inmates' fire shirts that clearly indicated significant scorch from the waist up to the collars. So, he said that the FFs' chests acted like a virtual slope funneling hot gases directly into their face and airways. He stressed that if they had laid down on the ground, that they likely would have survived with only burns. Always protect your airways!
When Dr. Putnam allows us the privilege, we will post the photos of those scorched fire shirts.
Fortuitously - some would say providentially - the initial attack TNF Payson RD Model 70 Engine had been working a hoselay along the Walk Moore Canyon two-track road. They had a flat tire on one of the outside duals and decided to wait until they headed out to the Control Road to change it. Similarly, around 1300, there was a PRD Timber employee tasked with delivering water with an ATV to the WFs within Walk Moore Canyon. He made a run, wondered if he had enough ATV fuel for another load, then decided to load his ATV into the back of his pickup truck.
Fortuitously again - some would again say providentially - as the aggressive downhill fire behavior loomed, the Navajo Scouts and Perryville Crew were attempting escape, and the Model 70 Engine and the Timber employee with the ATV loaded pickup provided a means for several of them to get inside and / or crawl atop these vehicles as a means of escape.
They reached the Control Road just ahead of the flames and jumped onto fire trucks already starting to move. (Payson Roundup) I (DF) recall these guys telling me that the powerful radiant and convective HRV-induced heat melted the tail lenses on the Model 70 Engine as it drove out.
Figure 24. Heading back down-canyon to the Ellis fatality area Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 25. Flagged and identified hazards - metal fence posts and wire gabbions to assist in reducing erosion Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 26. Integration Phase at Dude Fire Trailhead on May 23, 2020 at 2:45PM Source: Joy A Collura
The third and final Integration Phase is a formal or informal opportunity for students and faculty to "bring all the parts together" and reflect on the impressions and lessons learned. The second most important key to a successful Staff Ride or Site Visit is that "there must be a complete integration of the preliminary study phase and the field study portion of the course. Without the integration, the preliminary study phase is merely a battle analysis, and the field study portion is simply a historical battlefield tour. While either one is sufficient to derive lessons, the two activities integrated together generate optimal understanding and analytical thought." (emphasis added) Source: Conduct of the Staff Ride. Tactics Division, Amphibious Warfare School - Quantico, VA
At the Ranger Station, after the Dude Fire, I (DF) recall seeing several photographs of the aftermath result of Horizontal Roll Vortices (HRV) fire behavior that was readily apparent in Walk Moore Canyon with branches and limbs wrapped/ frozen in place. And the two to three on Roberts Mesa Rd area in the form of residual long tree islands, referred to as "crown streets" by Haines (1982) from HRV activity. However, the many photographs of HRV I saw at the PRD Office quickly disappeared.
Figure 27. Bass Lake Fire (1977) Pine Barrens State Forest / Park in New Jersey clearly exhibiting Horizontal Roll Vortices fire behavior. All four of the FFs in the photo died. Source: NIFC
Always Remember ( https://www.wlfalwaysremember.org/incident-lists/200-bass-river-2.html ) The objective of Always Remember is to provide a place to research and collect the information, then share it in a user friendly manner to honor the fallen and to foster lessons learned discussion. ( https://www.wlfalwaysremember.org/about-always-remember.html )
Figure 27a. Bass Lake Fire (1977) Pine Barrens State Forest / Park in New Jersey. Black arrows clearly delineate the Horizontal Roll Vortices fire behavior. All four of the FFs in the photo died. Source: Haines, D. (2003) HRV and the New Miner Fire. Fire Mgmt. Today, 63
The caption under the above photo states: "A vortex with a diameter of about 15 feet (4.6 m) on the flank of the fire. Implied airflow is outlined by the curving arrows. Flames are moving out of the main body of the fire at 30- to 50-degree angles and making 'rolls' back into the fire. The ambient wind is blowing from right to left in the photograph." (emphasis added) Photo: Donald Krohn, Nekoosa Paper, Inc. , Port Edwards, WI.
Figure 27b. Black and white photo of the "tree-crown streets" resulting from the escaped RX Burn turned Mack Lake Fire in Michigan (1980 ) Source: Haines - HRV and Crown Fires (1982)
Earlier that morning on June 26th, I (DF) had scouted the fire perimeter on the ridgeline above the Bonita Creek subdivision. It consisted of a very hot, continuous thick chaparral understory fire edge. This later intensified and flared up as the R6 HS Crew escaped "head-fire" burnout operation fire behavior rolled upslope toward the Bonita Creek Subdivision. I believe that this later rolled down into the Bonita Creek subdivision and combined with the several HS Crews' Walk Moore Canyon burnout operation, and was then intensified by fire behavior that funneled through a small saddle Northeast of the Bonita Creek subdivision. I surmise that it flared up and intensified once everything aligned and came together.
The 1345 spot fire across the Control Road diverted everyone's attention and was a distraction. Was it just the same spot fire from the night before June 25th?
"At approximately 1330, it was discovered that Bonita Creek Estates was surrounded by fire and resources could not leave. Two dozers were then directed to build a safety zone within the burn-out which remained very hot from heavy fuels burning. At 1345 a spot fire was reported below the Control Road on the west side. The 1400 Alpine IHC weather observations recorded 87 degrees and 21% RH. At approximately 1410, JP Mattingly, Alpine IHC Superintendent programmed the tactical frequency into LaTour's radio that was being used by the Type I IMT. Large drops of icy cold rain were felt by crews, and briefly mistaken for water from the engine hoses used for structure protection. Tony Sciacca, Foreman of the Prescott IHC, noticed that smoke was beginning to settle at the feet of the crews, this made him uncomfortable and decided to pull their crew out and into the safety zone. They walked past Alpine on the way to the safety zone and told Alpine crewmembers they were pulling out. Prescott was the first crew in Walk Moore to reach the road at approximately 1415, just minutes after Perryville Crew had resupplied with water and returned to work just off the dozer line, the Navajo Scouts lookout noticed the wind shift change to the east and the fire began to crown. The Navajo Scouts began running back down the line toward the Control Road. A member of the Navajo Scouts yelled at Perryville members as they ran past to “Get out!” The Perryville Crew was physically divided into a lower and upper group. ..." (emphasis added)
"The Feds in CHARGE were on the wrong radio frequency which is why we didn't all get out without deployment."
That may be partly true, however, the Navajo Scouts running through their Crew warning them to leave was verbal, no radio required there.
Figure 27c. Safety Zone that was dozer constructed in Walk Moore Canyon / Bonita Creek area with members of the Redmond Hotshots observing torching fire behavior Source: Tom Story. AZ Republic
Consider now the Figure 28 + 28a. maps below of the individual Crewmember positions and their respective gear indicates some panic and mayhem. The Investigators stated the fact that their gear was individually numbered to correspond with a specific WF made their accountability mapping much easier.
Figure 28. June 26, 1990 Dude Fire Walk Moore Canyon map of Perryville Crewmember "Deployment Positions" - including Hatch - from Control Road to Deployment / Fatality Site. Source: Investigation records, notes
Figure 28a. June 26, 1990 Dude Fire Walk Moore Canyon map of Perryville "Equipment Locations" - including Hatch - from Control Road to Deployment / Fatality Site. Source: Investigation records, notes
On a former Dude Fire Staff Ride, along the 1990 dozer line about halfway between the Western edge of the Bonita Creek subdivision and Walk Moore Canyon, one of the Plumas HS sawyers specifically recalled seeing the separate smoke column from the Fuller Creek area. This was where the R6 HS Crew burnout escaped and ran toward the Bonita Creek area. They eventually merged.
On the afternoon of June 26th about 1400 ?? or so, our DIVS directed us to pull out to the Control Road. While hiking out to the Control Road on the Fuller Creek two-track, I (DF) recall hearing over the radio on the TAC channel that the HS Crews' burnout had been lost. We then heard Zig Zag HS Supt. Gleason calling out over the radio on TAC about a burned WF. He then broadcast over the TAC channel a progression of various Perryville Crew fatalities and burn victims, totaling six.
While standing on the Fuller Creek Road and Control Road, (Figure 7a.) we observed an AZ Dept. of Corrections (DOC) vehicle driving back and forth as he could not get through to the East. The fire powerfully crossed the Control Road. As we left the two R6 HS Crews we had been working with, myself, and a Payson HS stopped this vehicle and asked the driver what was happening. The man inside, dressed in a yellow jump suit said with - "I should have never left my Crew." I (DF) noticed sodas and cigarettes on the seat next to him. I asked who his Crew was and he said "Perryville" and I told him that they were in a bad way. Once again, he said "I should have never left my Crew."
I (DF) inferred that this AZ State DOC Crew Boss had left his Crew to go to the nearby market at Mesa Del. Terra left Bachman with the responsibility of supervising the Crew even though the Dude Fire was her first wildfire assignment. Furthermore, several years later at a Payson, AZ Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin at Green Valley Park event I asked the visiting AZ Forestry and DOC personnel about Terra and they said he quit right after the Dude Fire. However, I have not verified that.
And what about the alleged Perryville inmate that supposedly was with Crew Boss Terra going for water? Many years later, the Globe HS Supt stated he had 'a son of the Perryville inmate' that supposedly was with Crew Boss Terra going for water. The son said his Father told him they had gotten 'some pot from some of the other Crews, and they were off by themselves smoking dope, and that's why they were separated from the rest of the Crew.' Look at the names and numbers of the Perryville Crew individuals and the map on Figure 28.
The day after the fatalities, at the Collins Ranch along the Roberts Mesa Road, the Payson HS and several helicopters were saving multiple structures by themselves because Crew Boss, who basically abandoned the Crew, was freaked about the deaths from the day before.
One of the tragic untold stories is about the Vietnam Veteran seasonal employee hired to be the Diamond Point Lookout, He was a Vietnam veteran apparently suffering from PTS, and the June 26th helicopters and air tankers, and the Perryville Inmate Crew deaths was the "trigger" reminded him of his likely stressful, painful Vietnam experiences. And so, he wigged out and quit. Unfortunately but not entirely a surprise, the USFS just abandoned him and left him adrift to deal with a work-related incident.
And to what levels with those that want to conceal the truth on these wildland fire fatalities?
Shortly after the Dude Fire fatalities had occurred and a Fatality Investigation Team was ordered, according to the TNF Dispatcher at the time - prior to the Investigation - both Fire Bosses took the fire package records to the TNF Supervisors Office in Phoenix and shredded fire package records. The Dispatcher and / or Center Manager told them that 'the Investigators would need those documents and records for their investigation,' According to the Dispatcher, the Fire Bosses allegedly told him: 'if you don't like it you can just leave.'
I (DF) was later tasked with the Dude Fire Staff Ride by USFS Staff Ride Coordinator Bequi Livingston to put one together. However, all the photos, documents, and records, mostly of fire behavior and the HRV after-effects of fire behavior in Walk Moore Canyon that I was familiar with were now gone. Bequi Livingston scheduled a Regional or National "Staff Ride Development Workshop" in Payson with product to be the Dude Fire Staff Ride. We had a copy of the investigative report provided by an anonymous source.
Figure 29. Snippet of Control Road (FR 64) and Mesa Del Road (FR 199) and Verde Glen Road (FR 199) junction between the "E" and "R" of River ( which historically extended north into a couple small subdivisions and still retains the FR 199 number). This is where the ADOT and Gila County dozers were staged all afternoon on June 30th, at the behest of the DFMO - Dude Fire Operations Advisor, according to the operators Source: USFS Tonto NF map
Please recall that on the night and early morning of June 25-26, I (DF) asked the DIVS several times to check on the dozers he had earlier ordered. The response to our DIVS all night was "they've been ordered." About 2100 on June 26th at the Control Rd and junction (mail boxes) were two large Gila County and ADOT dozers on flatbeds. I asked how long they had been there and they said 'All day, some guy named Velatto told us to stage here.' How about Velasco? 'Yea, that was him.' Days later, I asked Velasco why. His response was 'I thought that maybe the Class One Team might have other plans for them."
I told him 'No, you fight the going fire, we asked for them all night. We could have used them in Bonita Creek.'
And also recall that he said that he wouldn't change a thing in an anniversary local newspaper article. Consider now some June 21, 1991, local newspaper articles remembering the Dude Fire.
Figures 30a. + b. Dude Fire news articles with Velasco comments Source: Payson Roundup
Velasco, who had been assigned to the incoming Fire Team(s) as an 'Operations Advisor,' admitted in one of the newspaper interviews that he knew this fire would occur and he had planned for it for years. He said in one interview: "I've fought that fire over and over in my mind hundreds and thousands of times" and "Velasco has been reliving the painful details of the fire for almost one full year, but says he doesn't believe he would do anything different to control it than originally was done." (emphasis added)
Okay ... so let's slightly restate that "in the positive." 'Velasco has been reliving the painful details of the fire for almost one full year, and says he believes he would do everything the same to control it.'
And some of those decisions and actions he made (or failed to make) and /or agreed with were restricting a qualified and experienced fireline supervisor from any supervisory roles, including giving or making any tactical, or strategy decisions; discounting his professional opinion mentioned at a Planning / Strategy Meeting regarding the fire behavior timing on the AGF Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery; and finally his poor decision regarding placing the two dozers on standby rather than allowing them to perform needed work and then failing to inform the DIVS of that decision.
Velasco was using the old adage "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different (better) outcome" has been attributed to the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. It matters not the source - what matters is that he would do the same thing(s) all over again.
Consider now, we are that we are back on the Dude Fire Site Visit. While there at the Walk Moore Canyon parking area, we saw a lot of fire vehicles going red lights and siren passing by, including a Heli-Fuel truck and trailer that pulled into the Trailhead parking area on their way to the Ellison Fire East of us along the Control Road. Traffic was extremely busy and campers were everywhere, at any and every conceivable camping spot.
Figure 31. Ellison Fire staging area - May 23, 2020 at 3:45PM Dude Fire Site Visit Source: Joy A Collura
Yes indeed, a most bizarre Memorial Weekend event on public lands. This alleged "Public Servant" was quite incensed that someone had challenged him regarding the use of the VLATs (Very Large Air Tanker) on initial attacks. His supervisor would later stand by him and actually defend his behavior, stating that I (DF) had "baited him" by me making a comment about "our Federal tax dollars." And then he segued into telling me something like - 'the YH Fire is seven years old and to let it go, people were tired of talking about it.' I had to disagree with him and told him that people - especially WFs - were starving for information about all of it - yes indeed - even seven years later. And that we were finding new information on a regular basis.
Figure 31a. Ellison Fire staging area - May 23, 2020 at 3:45PM Dude Fire Site Visit Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 32. Haught Cabin and former Zane Grey Cabin areas Source: Joy A Collura
The photo above is the site of the historic Haught Cabin hidden in the trees to the left and the former, historic Zane Gray Cabin site is in the trees to the right. In the afternoon of June 27, 1990, because we (WFs and others) had no radio repeaters set up for communication back to Fire Camp near Payson, I (DF) had to go to nearby Kohl's Ranch to use their phone to call the Plans personnel and brief them on the historical area situation. I informed them of my location and told them there was no fire resources there. He replied: 'There should be.' I was now accompanied by several TNF PRD employees and a contractor with a dump truck while we attempted independent action here, however, because of aggressive fire behavior above us, our supervisor kinda wigged out and ordered us to disengage. We could hear propane tanks blowing up / off as we left the area.
Figure 32a. Former Zane Grey Cabin. Note the unburned tress are still in place indicating it did not burn in a passing fire front. It indicates it burned slowly, from embers. Source: Northern Gila County Historical Society
Figure 32b. Former Zane Grey Cabin. Note the unburned tress are still in place indicating it did not burn in a passing fire front. It indicates it burned slowly, from embers. Source: Northern Gila County Historical Society
As the fire approached the Haught Cabin and Zane Grey Cabin areas I recall intense lateral fire spread from the West above us preceded by some bizarre fire behavior. I watched small vine-like firewhirls wrapping around tree stems, then torching the trees out, propane bottles blowing off. I recall one of the helicopter pilots in the area that day commenting on the radio about that bizarre fire behavior as well.
I recall passing FMO Advisor Velasco and the Payson HS along the Roberts Mesa Rd and asked / told them to go to the Zane Grey Cabin as it was being threatened. They never went there. (Figure 32c. below)
Figure 32c. Photo of Payson HS along Roberts Mesa Rd. on our way to the Zane Grey Cabin. Source: Schoeffler
A short time after the Dude Fire, the Class 1 Fire Boss was interviewed in a Payson Roundup article shortly after the fire, about the historical cabin. Paraphrasing the Fire Boss, he lied and said something like: 'The firefighters had done everything they could to save Zane Grey's Cabin. They hosed it down and foamed it and it was overrun by fire about 1:30 in the morning.' Bald face lies! The trees that surrounded the cabin were scorched somewhat but still in place and unburned. The cabin burned down as a result of flying embers in the vent's eaves, overhangs, porches, etc. and burned from the top, down.
Figure 33. Burned water faucet at the former Zane Grey Cabin area Source: video
Figure 33a. Historic Clicquot Club wooden crate at former Zane Grey Cabin area. Source: video
The Clicquot Club Company, also known as Clicquot Club Beverages, was one of the largest national beverage companies. It started with a sparkling cider that was produced locally by Charles LaCroix of the LaCroix Fruit Farm. The farm was likely located somewhere on or neighboring the estate of Lansing Millis for whom the town of Millis, Mass. was ultimately named.
Sometime in the early 1880’s LaCroix partnered with Lansing Millis’s son, Henry Millis, and began bottling the cider under the name “Aqua Rex Bottling Works.” ( Clicquot Club – Bay Bottles )
Figure 33b. Burned relics in Former Zane Grey Cabin area Source: video
Figure 33. Lead Instructor takes Student and other Participants in Haught Cabin and Zane Grey cabin area where he was on the Dude Fire, June 26, 1990. Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 34. AGF Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery entrance - CLOSED on May 23, 2020 at 3:45PM Dude Fire Site Visit Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 35. AGF Tonto Creek Hatchery entrance on May 23, 2020 at 3:45PM - Dude Fire Site Visit Source: Joy A Collura
On the night of June 26 and long into the early morning hours of June 27, the Dude Fire made a significant thermal belt induced, 10,000 acre nighttime run to the East. It was a most impressive and memorable event.
The morning of June 27th, the Plans Chief told me (DF) early on before our briefing, to go to the top of The Rim and 'tie in with the Team on the Apache / Sitgreaves NF and find out what they were doing.' The Briefing or Strategy meeting later that morning was about a lot of stupid stuff, and they planned to put all their Resources at Tonto Village. Someone at the meeting mentioned the AGF Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery and someone on the Fire Team said it would be safe. I (DF) told them the fire would be there between 1230 and 1300. And "Operations Advisor" Velasco told them: 'don't to listen to him, he's exaggerating and doesn't know what he's talking about.' The AGF representative in the meeting followed me outside and asked me if I thought that was a possibility and I said absolutely. I missed it by half an hour.
After being thwarted from saving the Zane Grey Cabin the TNF PRD employees then initiated and safely and successfully accomplished further independent action at the AGF Hatchery. After scouting, we decided to fire our way down from the top around the three separate living quarters structures, including a propane tank. We had to disengage and re-engage three separate times due to our timid AFMO 'Lookout' getting nervous about our escape route being cut off. We lost two outbuildings and the canvas fish pond coverings suffered several burn holes.
Because of our successful "Independent Action" AGF Hatchery burnout operation that infuriated the District Ranger, he decided that he needed to seek disciplinary action against only me for what he characterized as "Threatening and endangering." Because the AGF was "truly grateful," they awarded each of us a nice plaque for our "quick thinking and brave performance" and this is what effectively emasculated the USFS from bringing any disciplinary actions against me.
Figures 35 a-b. New article (Sept. 1990 ) titled "Seven honored for saving hatchery" and the plaque we received "for your efforts during the Dude Fire 1990 ... you saved the Tonto Creek Hatchery" Source: Payson Roundup, AGF
Recall that Schoeffler was told by the DR that he was to do no supervision. Well that all changed when it was time for the Rehabilitation Phase. I (DF) was assigned as the Operations (OPS) supervising as many as eighty WFs and Contractors.
Fires result in loss of vegetation, exposure of soil to erosion, and increased water runoff that may lead to flooding, increased sediment, debris flow, and damage to critical natural and cultural resources.
To mitigate that, we created debris barriers in the drainages at the culverts and / or bridge crossings to keep the inevitable thousands of acres of burned logs, rocks, mud, and whatever else from clogging and / or damaging the existing structures once the Monsoons came in. The theory was that these ramp-like sloping structures would launch and debris out of the drainages and over the roadways instead of clogging the culverts which eventually washed out the roadways.
An interesting side-note is that every one of the older CCC-era bridges (i.e. Ellison Creek) withstood the floodwaters where the more modern ones flunked.
This will be a non-scientific layman's explanation of what occurs based on many years of experiencing and witnessing burn scars during monsoonal rains. The blackened footprint of the fire with its low albedo, which is the reflectivity of a surface will absorb a lot more heat than a lighter surface. Albedo is the reflectivity of a surface. A pure black object would absorb all radiation and have an albedo of 0%. With the low albedo, high absorption, the burnt, blackened burn scar would absorb much more solar radiation which triggers a massive thermal column due to convection. This massive thermal column then draws in the monsoonal thunderstorms right to that column; and the thunderstorms beeline right for them and then deluge their frog-choking thunderstorms. This occurs for at least three years.
Figure 36. Typical USFS warning sign regarding potential burned area hazards. Source: KPCC
Another untold chapter in the Dude Fire saga is the unethical and disingenuous USFS planting African Weeping Lovegrass (i.e. Weeping and Lehmann’s lovegrass Eragrostis curvula & E. Lehmanniana) on the burn scar even after the AZ Game & Fish Department, knowing the USFS had a pattern of using this invasive species, specifically told the District Ranger (DR) to refrain from doing so on this fire scar.
According to the AGF there was a "Gentleman's Agreement" this would be the case, and they even shook hands on it, even though the DR had already purchased the seed mix from the Soil and Conservation Service which contained the African Weeping Lovegrass seed mix. The AGF considered suing the USFS then chocked it up to a professional disagreement and just dropped it. The District Ranger eventually got a $10,000.00 Cash Award for all his (in)actions on the Dude Fire, and he was not even engaged in the fire until a few days later. This is a typical USFS response.
Consider now several professional sources and references of the Dude Fire and the use of African Weeping lovegrass.
Jackson M. Leonard; Alvin L. Medina; Daniel G. Neary; Aregai Tecle (2015) The influence of parent material on vegetation response 15 years after the Dude Fire, Arizona ( https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/47800 )
"In addition, after the Dude Fire, weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula Nees), a very aggressive non-native grass species, was used in rehabilitation efforts to decrease erosion (citations omitted). Recent studies have questioned the need and effectiveness of seeding wildland sites with grass species following fire (citations omitted). The practice has been found to negatively influence the diversity of native flora, be ineffective in erosion control, and exacerbate erosion due to community type conversion (citations omitted)."
"Nearly $2 million was spent on seeding and reforestation efforts between 1991 and 1995 to control erosion and aid vegetative recovery (Dude Fire Long Range Rehabilitation Implementation and Monitoring Plan 1991. (citation omitted)"
Environmental Assessment for Integrated Treatment of Noxious or Invasive Plants Tonto National Forest Gila, Maricopa, Pinal, and Yavapai Counties, Arizona ( https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiDzpOr-f7pAhXFGjQIHWQSD0oQFjABegQIAxAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fs.usda.gov%2FInternet%2FFSE_DOCUMENTS%2Ffsbdev3_018696.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1DLg488JYjEnJOW2Qgf_qJ )
Invasive Weeds - Weeping and Lehmann's Lovegrass
Eragrostis curvula & E. Lehmanniana
Although there is a native lovegrass species (E. intermedia), these 2 species of Eragrostis are introduced from South Africa. ( https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tonto/learning/nature-science/?cid=fsbdev3_018817 )
"Tonto NF Goals & Strategy: Both Eragrostis species are “C” species on the Tonto NF. They are extremely widespread due to past practices of including them in revegetation seed mixes. Current strategy is to not introduce additional infestations by requiring all seed mixes used on the Forest, to be checked for presence of Eragrostis seeds. If it is accidentally introduced, immediate measures will be taken to eradicate new populations. One pilot project on the Payson RD is using permitted cattle to concentrate grazing use on weeping lovegrass that was seeded after the Dude Fire, and encourage growth of native perennial grasses. Monitoring is ongoing."
"The area burned in during the Dude Fire has an altered fire regime. The area is in an early seral state with the mixed conifer and ponderosa pine vegetation replaced by alligator juniper, oaks, and manzanita with an understory of seeded, non-native weeping lovegrass. The Dude Fire area represents more than 99 percent of the mapped population of weeping lovegrass. In some places, the density weeping lovegrass could lead to an increased risk of wildfire, however, in most places within the Dude Fire, the cover of weeping lovegrass in (sic) decreasing (U.S.F.S., Tonto NF files, Dude Fire photo points 1990 to 2009), being reduced by competition with overstory trees and shrubs."
Figure 36. Heading to Christopher Kohl's FD for our AAR Source: Joy A Collura
Figure 37.Our AAR at Christopher Kohl's Fire Department Source: Joy A Collura
Patricia Andrews, fire behavior specialist at the Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, in Ogden, Utah met with Alpine Hotshots foreman J.P. Mattingly. Like Gleason, Mattingly had seen and heard things that would stay with him forever ..."
In the interview, Mattingly also questioned the priorities of the incident commanders. "They seemed more concerned with saving structures," Andrews wrote in her log. She quoted Mattingly as saying, "Should we have been in there at all?"
Please take some time to read their report to better understand the fire weather, fuels, and terrain influences as well as the ensuing fire behavior on the June 1990 Dude Fire. And become Students of Fire Weather.
WEATHER AND FIRE BEHAVIOR FACTORS RELATED TO THE 1990 DUDE FIRE NEAR PAYSON, AZ
David W. Goens - National Weather Service Pocatello, Idaho
Patricia L. Andrews - Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service Missoula, Montana
Here is their summary:
"The behavior of the Dude Fire from its initiation on June 25 through its rapid spread on June 26 was not unusual considering fuel and weather conditions. The high probability of summer thunderstorms in the complex terrain of the western United States is well understood, even in fairly dry atmospheric regimes. The Haines Index (Haines, 1988; Werth and Ochoa, 1993) for both days indicate the extreme potential for rapid-fire growth and spread, and atmospheric profiles indicated the potential for dry microbursts. Fire Weather Forecasts for the area advertised some potential for thunderstorm activity both days. Predicting the exact location of thunderstorm formation is beyond the state of the science, however topographically, favored locations are usually easy to identify. Once the fire started and had spread to nearly 2000 ac (800 ha), it was reasonable to expect a well-developed convection column due to the favorable atmospheric dynamics and the additional impetus of the fire. Forecasting downburst winds is highly complicated, even more so in complex terrain. Complex terrain tends to channel the wind, often blocking or enhancing speed and direction (Whiteman, 1990). Because downburst winds tend to be cool and dense, the enhancement and channeling down slope that occurred in this case was not unusual. The occurrence of the short duration gust front, followed by 20 to 30 minutes of sustained strong wind, is again within the realm of reasonable experience. The extended period of high temperatures and dry weather preceding the fire had preconditioned fuels. Live fuels had low moisture content and fine dead fuels were tinder dry. Drought conditions exacerbated the situation, with large dead fuels so dry that they became a major contributing factor to the fire's intensity. The downburst winds caused the fire to change from a fire backing through the understory to a fire that spread rapidly through the overstory. This paper was undertaken: to further document the conditions that led to the entrapment and fatalities on the Dude Fire. Hopefully, it can also be used to heighten the awareness of the common denominators of tragedy fires (NWCG, 1996). It may also be used as a case study by those who are working to provide methods for better prediction of downbursts on fires.
Consider now some excerpts on our first Fire Order dealing with some specific germane Fire Weather from the Archives of "They Said" a former WF Blog:
From Archives of They Said It: Discussion starting on 6/28/06:
The Dude Fire is Still Smokin’
"The latest chapter in the Dude Fire story has been written by Dr. Brian E. Potter, Research Meteorologist & Team Leader, USDA Forest Service AirFIRE Team. Dr. Potter published an article in 2005 explaining how the water produced in a wildland fire enters the plume and affects the likelihood of causing a downburst. The Dude Fire was among the most dramatic examples of this downdraft / downburst phenomenon in his article.
“The role of released moisture in the atmospheric dynamics associated with wildland fires”. Potter, Brian E., International Journal of Wildland Fire, 2005, 14, 77-84. ( https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/airfire/convectiveclim/references.html )
All emphasis is added below in Potters downdraft quotes
"The Dude Fire downburst article by Goens and Andrews is referenced in Dr. Potter’s work. Dr. Potter calculated the DCAPE - Downdraft Convective Available Potential Energy - and the Dude Fire DCAPE values were among the highest of the eleven severe fires examined. Dr. Potter states: “Released moisture is not only a contributing factor, but at times a controlling or critical factor in fire-atmosphere interactions on time and space scales important to fire behavior and fire-fighter safety.”
"One can infer that but for the fire-released water from the Dude Fire into the plume that day, on the order of 5 million kilograms by my estimate, the air would probably not have had sufficient water content to initiate and sustain the downburst.
"Dr. Potter explains the need to add this to our predictive models: “The traditional definition of fire behavior describes the controlling factors as fuels, atmosphere and topography. If released moisture is indeed an important factor controlling fire behavior, then it presents an area of fire behavior research that requires strong knowledge and understanding of both fuel conditions and the atmospheric conditions. The link between these two becomes a strong two-way interaction that cannot be studied or understood in separate fuel and atmospheric pieces.”Dr. Potter concludes with what needs to be done to put this knowledge to work on the fire ground: 'There are also implications of this work for management, though practical application is far down the road. If a manager knew that a certain rate of moisture release was a threshold for extreme fire behavior on a given fire and day, the manager may attempt to control rate of spread during a specific time period in the hope that the moisture release rate would stay below the threshold, thus preventing possible erratic behavior. Fuel managers could also begin considering fuel loads that would hold the possible released moisture down below a climatologically determined level that divided blow-up from well behaved fire probabilities.'”
Commenter "Still Out There":
6/29/06 Still Out There:
"Dr. Potter sent me his articles during our discussions of the subject. (See above studies)
"He agreed with my estimation that the 1500 acre fire (200 new acres that morning) would have added on the order of more than 5 Million kilograms of water into the column in an otherwise relatively dry air mass. The remaining issues include how it mixes and a lot of factors affecting downbursts. Fires as small as 100 acres can produce rain drops. Rain drops fell on Paul Gleason. Paul Linse, some of the Perryville crew, also at the Control road and at the subdivision before the downburst. In addition, Tony Sciacca and Nando Lucero [Prescott] noted the smoke laying down near the burnout further up Walk Moore Canyon, and decided to pull the Prescott Hotshots out, told the adjoining Alpine Hotshots, Jim Mattingly, and they both tried to call and contact Perryville but Perryville was already on the run escaping from the downslope run from the downburst further down the canyon. Paul Linse also noticed the area smoke in further up the canyon. The smoke laying down further up the canyon was not noticed until a few minutes after the burnover in the canyon below them. High winds did not involve the upper canyon until after the burnover below, from which Hatch walked out back up the canyon and was found by Gleason [Zig Zag], Linse [Flathead] and Mattingly [Alpine]
Figure 38. Closing Thoughts Source: Joy A Collura
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, ... Proverbs 2:7
Figure 39. Rowdy Muir Source: KRCC Leadership
I (DF) have always considered Rowdy Muir to be a good leader. He's been fair to me, and as far as I know, has always sided with the WFs on-the-ground and has maintained and supported an "Old School" ethic and work attitude.
Originally, we broached the question: "Do our Wildland Fire (WF) Instructors foster "complete" lessons learned in the WF culture?"
There is definitely an assortment of WF Instructors across the spectrum on this one. For the most part, I would say that most WF Instructors are likely uninformed or ignorant and merely need to be educated and brought up to speed. Others are just biding their time as a career employee and so prefer to avoid "rocking the boat," so they choose the obsequious, timid Party Liner path as a "Team Player" to "Go Along to Get Along." The truth may have been revealed to them, but it is of no concern to them. They make that a conscious choice. There are always going to be the Naysayers, the Pessimists, and the Brown-Nosers.
So then, take the path that is the one less traveled, the difficult right path.
In the weeks to follow be watchful for Parts 1 to 5 of "Was the June 26, 1990, Dude Fire a precursor for the "incomplete" lessons learned on June 30, 2013?"
Most recent / current chapter:
The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. Psalm 145:14
Authors: Douglas Fir, Joy A. Collura, and contributing others Views expressed to "the public at large” and "of public concern" DISCLAIMER: Please fullYarnell Hill Fire Revelations © (2018) Sheff LLC