National Wildfire Coordinating Group

RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)

1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain

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This module looks at the South Canyon Fire where 14 perished, and discusses safety, hazards, risk, and entrapment avoidance.
Category: Case Studies
Core Component(s): Incident Reviews and Lessons Learned;
Fire and Aviation Operational Safety;
Human Factors, Communication and Decision Making;
Fire Shelters and Entrapment Avoidance

Estimated Delivery Time: 2 hour; Video Length: Part 1: 39:50, Estimated Delivery Time: 2 hour; Video Length: Part 2: 41:52

Part 1

Part 2



Review the sequence of events that led to tragedy on the South Canyon Fire and discuss significant lessons learned.

Facilitator Preparation

  • Review the two videos and module tools.
  • Consider additional activities and discussion questions pertinent to the location and agency.

Facilitating the Discussion

  • Show the two videos.
  • Facilitate a small or large group discussion using the activity and discussion questions below.
  • Guide discussion based on the Downhill Checklist in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461. Provide copies of the IRPG for students to utilize and answer questions.

Discussion Questions

Part 1

  1. Which hazardous conditions for downhill fireline construction were present?
  2. What supervisory/overhead personnel and crew supervisors discussed the situation prior to committing crews to the assignment?
  3. What supervisory/overhead personnel stayed with the job?
  4. Was the fireline scouted?  When was the decision made to engage the fire?
  5. Was there direct contact between the crew(s) and a lookout(s) that could see the fire?
  6. Was there communication between all personnel from top to bottom?
  7. Was there rapid access to a pre-identified identified safety zone?
  8. Was direct attack being used?
  9. Was the fireline in or adjacent to a chute or chimney?
  10. Was the fireline anchored at the starting point on top?
  11. Was the bottom of the fire being monitored?
  12. What other tactical alternatives could have been used on this fire?

Part 2

  • Consider the casual factors identified in Part 1; then summarize the significant lessons to be learned from this case study.


Additional Video Information

This video is also available as a download (Part 1) (Size 8 GB)​ and  download (Part 2). (Size 8 GB)​
Download the .srt files (part 1 and part 2) for closed captioning (you may need to right click and Save As). For information on how to add closed captioning to a video, see this how to page.

Note: For Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, right click the word download and select Save Link As; for Internet Explorer (IE), right click and select Save Target As.



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