Report: Elkhorn II escaped prescribed fire

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On June 12, 2008, a prescribed fire was ignited on the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada. Two days later it was declared an escaped fire and eventually burned 3,724 acres outside the project boundary. A report has been released which shows a degree of cooperation and openness by those who were involved, contributing to possible lessons learned. Here are some examples of those from the report:

  • Use normal fire behavior for normal planning but extreme fire behavior for contingency planning.
  • Make your test fire a real “test” of the burning conditions. Put it in a place where it represents worst case burning and in a place where you can put it out if the test tells you the fire will exceed your prescription.
  • I’ll never believe anyone that says, “It’ll stop when it hits the rocks”.
  • My slides failed me. We can no longer rely on Recognition Primed Decision-making.
  • A good snow pack does not mean high spring fuel moisture. Don’t trust the snow to wet your dead fuels.
  • The project boundary for this prescribed fire was identified in the EA and through an interdisciplinary team. The boundary was located along contour lines corresponding with archeological survey requirements and in some cases vegetation changes (Pinyon-Juniper to Sage). Consequently in many areas the boundary was located at mid slope in dense continuous Pinyon-Juniper stands. The boundary did not consider a road (nearby to the north and east), natural barriers or afford the ability to [prevent the fire from] …. crossing project boundaries.
  • Make sure the project boundary is a boundary that you can realistically defend.
  • Make sure your holding and lighting bosses know exactly where that boundary is. has a copy of the report HERE.

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