2019 WOR Day 7: South Canyon 25 Years Ago Today
June 30-July 6, 2019
This Week of Remembrance is dedicated to all those who have fallen in the line of duty and is intended to serve as an opportunity to renew our commitment to the health, wellness, and safety of wildland firefighters.
On July 2, 1994, seven miles west of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, lightning ignited a Bureau of Land Management fire in piñon-pine and juniper on a ridge at the base of Storm King Mountain. The fire, paralleled by two deep canyons, was initially believed to have “little chance” to spread. The past two days, lightning had started 40 new fires on this BLM District. The entire general area, in a one-year drought, was experiencing low humidity and record-high temperatures. Over the next two days, the South Canyon Fire increased in size. Visible from Interstate 70 and nearby residential areas, the public became concerned. Some initial attack resources were assigned.
Four days later, on July 6, a dry cold front moved into the fire area. As winds and fire activity increased, the fire made several rapid runs within the existing burn—in dense, highly flammable Gambel oak. 35 firefighters survived either by escaping down a deep drainage or by seeking a safety area and deploying their fire shelters. Fourteen firefighters perished as they tried to outrun the flames.
They were just out doing normal work.
Remembering those that lost their lives on Storm King Mountain 25 years ago today.
Today we mark the anniversary of this tragedy and honor through learning. Anniversaries of such events provide an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our mission and seek improvement.
The purpose of this week has been to honor all fallen firefighters by making a commitment that we will learn the lessons from those that walked the fireline before us, many of those lessons being learned the hard way and by those making the ultimate sacrifice.
A Preparedness Guide for Firefighters and Their Families provides candid information and resources to help wildland firefighters and their families understand risks of the job and plan for the unexpected. The guide will be useful for both new and experienced wildland firefighters, friends and family who support them, and agency employees who supports emergency response.
We encourage all fireline personnel, incident management, fire support staff, and program management to take a moment of remembrance, when/if appropriate, to reflect on, and discuss lessons we learned from this Week of Remembrance, and how we will apply those lessons.
How can YOU Honor through Learning?
The topics, review, and resources for the NWCG “Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrance” have been contributed by the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, the NWCG Leadership Committee, and many other field subject matter experts.
- 10 & 18 Poster, PMS 110-18
- 10 Standard Firefighting Orders, PMS 110
- 18 Watch Out Situations, PMS 118
- Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
- NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
- NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
- RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
- Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center
Have an idea or feedback?
Share it with the NWCG 6MFS Subcommittee.