National Wildfire Coordinating Group

2023 Week of Remembrance Day 6

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Point Fire (Idaho) – July 28, 1995

Today’s topic is dedicated to all fallen firefighters.
May we never stop learning.

 

On July 28, 1995, at 6:29 p.m., a fire was reported approximately 16 miles southwest of Boise. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Kuna Rural Fire District (RFD) resources were dispatched to the fire. As they arrived on scene, the fire was 60 to 65 acres, actively burning in brush and grass with moderate rates of spread. The BLM Incident Commander (IC) instructed the BLM engines to split up and directly attack the flanks with Kuna RFD engines 620 and 622 behind them. The fire spread had been stopped at 120 acres.

 

At 8:22 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag warning predicting gusts of up to 50 mph from a thunderstorm.

Kuna 620 and 622 mopped up along the north flank until 622 ran out of water. While Kuna 622 was en route to refill, Kuna 620 contacted them with a report that their vehicle was overheating. Kuna 620 turned north on a two-track road, driving cross-country through unburned heavy sagebrush. At this point, Kuna 620 became disabled.

At about 8:46 p.m., the fire escaped the northern flank due to strong southerly outflow winds. Several fire personnel immediately drove north to assess fire behavior. They see a stationary engine in the path of the oncoming flame front. They did not know whether the engine was occupied.

Never Forgotten

  • Bill Buttram (31)
  • Josh Oliver (18)

At, 8:49 p.m., Kuna 620 contacted the Kuna Commander on a local non-federal frequency and reported, “We are on the north line. We have fire coming hard, and this thing has died.” The Kuna 620 engine crew made another radio transmission one minute later, “The truck’s been overtaken by fire!” That was their last transmission. It took four minutes from the point of escape for the fire to overrun the disabled engine.

How do we as a fire community remember and honor those that were lost.
Understanding how federal, state, and local resources come together on a single piece of ground to accomplish a common goal will continue to make the response to wildfire, prescribed fire, and all-hazard incidents better.

How do you maintain, improve, or promote relations on your unit?
The focus on our quality of engines and support vehicles throughout the fire service is constantly improving. The improvements made in standardizing the Preventative Maintenance checks and creating a culture of reporting equipment issues nationally have helped tremendously.

What are ways you ensure your equipment is in serviceable condition?
In the Swiss Cheese model, the holes in the slices represent weaknesses in individual parts of the system and are continually varying in size and position across the slices. The system produces failures when a hole in each slice momentarily aligns, so that a hazard passes through holes in all the slices, leading to a failure. In the case of the Point Fire there wasn’t a singular event that led to this tragedy. Recognition of all the different variables is key in learning.

Resources:

Category: 
Week of Remembrance
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Jun 2023

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