Thursday, July 9, 2015

Remembering the Rattlesnake

(Photo credit: unknown]
On July 9, 1953, a New Tribes Mission firefighting crew under the direction of U.S. Forest Service overhead was trapped by flames as they worked on a brush covered hillside in Powderhouse Canyon on the Mendocino National Forest.

(Rattlesnake fire, 1953; photo credit: unknown)
The crew was working on a spot fire in a narrow canyon covered with 40 year-old chaparral brush. They had just completed construction of a handline around their spot fire when a sudden wind shift caused another spot fire to flare-up. This other spot fire was located up-canyon from the crew. However, the unusually strong down-canyon wind pushed the uncontrolled spot fire toward the crew's location. Within 30 minutes the fire had run more than a mile down canyon, catching the crew while they attempted to fight their way through the heavy brush to safety. Fifteen firefighters perished on the Rattlesnake Fire that day. Nine fellow crewmembers barely escaped.
(Rattlesnake fire fatality site; photo credit: Idaho City IHC)
Much of the knowledge gained about wildland fire has come through the high cost of firefighter lives. Lessons learned from the Rattlesnake Fire played a large role in the decision to form the first national level task force to examine wildland firefighter safety in 1957.
(Rattlesnake fire memorial; photo credit: Idaho City IHC)
Additional References
2014 Wildland Fire Leadership Campaign - The Resilient Team

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sergio colles was my aunt Mary Kauffman's husband he died just before l turned 1!