An investigation report has been released for an engine that was destroyed by a wildland fire near Richfield, Idaho on July 16, 2014.
During the initial attack phase on the Bureau of Land Management Fire, a Type 4 engine from the Richfield, Idaho Rural Fire Department responded. The two people on the engine attempted to make a frontal attack on the head of the fire.
The engine got stuck, or high-centered, on a rock and could not be moved. The two people on the engine, a city employee and a “part-time” volunteer, in an attempt to protect the truck from the approaching fire used two small booster hoses, one-half inch in diameter with a flow rate of 10 gallons per minute. They had to abandon the engine as the fire got closer, and it was destroyed. There were no injuries to the personnel.
Below is an excerpt from the report. “ENG3″ is the apparatus that was destroyed by the fire:
“…ENG3 proceeded south on the two track toward the head of the fire with FF2 riding on the top of the engine. The engine left the two track road and drove off-road toward a lava blister trying to access the active fire perimeter. Near the base of thelava blister, ENG3 struck a rock cluster high centering the rear axle of the vehicle and rendering ENG3 immobile. FF1 utilized four-wheel drive in an attempt to dislodge the vehicle, but sandy conditions caused ENG3’s side tires to sink. The rear axle of the apparatus pivoted on the rear differential, listing the vehicle to its right side. The driver’s rear tire was raised off the ground by 8-12 inches.
WT1 operator, FMO, and AFMO hiked west from the highway over the lava blister and observed ENG3 high centered on a rock in unburned fuel north of the active fire perimeter. The AFMO notified the IC at approximately 1215 of the immobilized engine. ENG3 crew deployed booster hose off both sides of the truck. FF2 worked from the right hose reel in front of the truck and south about 50 feet up the lava blister into sparser fuels. FF1 stayed near the front of the truck wetting a heavier pocket of unburned grass and brush.
ENG1 left the west flank and drove to the location of ENG3 to help remove ENG3 from the rock. ENG1 determined that an attempt to dislodge ENG3 would be unsuccessful. ENG1 then drove southwest and established an anchor point at the lava blister, approximately 200 yards from ENG3. ENG1 resumed mobile attack working back towards the disabled engine.
Between 1220 and 1225, wind direction changed from west to south. Fire behavior increasedand the fire made a rapid run toward the disabled engine. The FMO and AFMO made verbal contact with the two individuals on ENG3. The FMO and FF1 retreated to a safety zone in the black on top of the lava blister approximately 25 yards east of the disabled engine. The AFMO urged FF2, still by ENG3, to immediately retreat toward him into the safety zone. FF2 delayed until he felt excessive heat from the fire, closed the nozzle, and retreated to the safety zone.
At 1227, ENG3 was engulfed by the fire and completely destroyed…”