Thursday, April 25, 2013

Revisiting the Loop Fire

About the Loop Fire
On November 1, 1966, the El Cariso Hotshots, a U.S. Forest Service interregional wildland firefighting crew, was trapped by flames as they worked on a steep hillside in Pacoima Canyon on the Angeles National Forest.

The crew was constructing fireline downhill into a chimney canyon and were within 200 feet of completing their assignment when a sudden shift of winds caused a spot fire directly below where they were working.
Within seconds flames raced uphill, engulfing the firefighters in temperatures estimated to reach 2500 degrees F. The fire flashed through the 2,200 foot long chimney canyon in less than one minute, catching the crew while they attempted to reach their safety zones.

Ten members of the crew perished on the Loop Fire that day. Another two members succumbed from burn injuries in the following days. Most of the nineteen members who survived were critically burned and remained hospitalized for some time.

Much of the knowledge gained about wildland fire has come through the high cost of firefighter lives. Lessons learned from the Loop Fire resulted in improved firefighting equipment, better fire behavior training, and the implementation of new firefighter safety protocols.

The Loop and Glen Allen video was part of the Fatality Fire Case Study (formerly PMS 490) curriculum.

For more information on the Loop fire, visit the Staff Ride Library.

An Interview with Loop Fire Survivor Gerald Smith
Loop Fire survivor Gerald Smith revisits the scene and speaks frankly about his memories and experience.


These videos are available on the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center's YouTube channel.

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