Wildfire briefing, December 9, 2013

Hunter to be charged for starting Rim Fire

A hunter is expected to be charged for acts that resulted in starting the Rim Fire, which this summer burned 402 square miles of forest in and near Yosemite National Park in California. Sfgate.com reported that Michael Knowles of the U.S. Attorney’s office has indicated that charges will be filed, but the identity of the person has not been revealed. Fire officials said earlier that a hunter’s illegal campfire was the origin of the blaze.

Reporter remembers writing the story about the South Canyon Fire

A reporter has written an interesting article about what it was like to first hear the news and write the story of the 14 firefighters that were killed on the South Canyon Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado in 1994.

Billie Stanton was working in the news room with Jim Kirksey, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, when the call came in from reporter Robert (Bob) Kowalski near the fire scene.

…As the fastest typist, I was taking down the victims’ ages and names as Bob carefully recited the spellings. Kirksey was fashioning the story.

But the names kept coming and coming. “Is that it?” I would ask. “No, I have more,” Bob would say.

I’m uncertain now on whose name I began to cry. One of those four beautiful young women from Prineville, Ore., I think — Tammy Bickett or Kathi Beck, Terri Hagen or Bonnie Holtby.

I’d never covered a wildfire; I didn’t even know women were fighting them. But the image of 14 young firefighters trapped by flames was seared into my consciousness.

$225 burial allowances for Mann Gulch Fire victims

I’m not sure if this fact was in Young Men and Fire or not, but the Billings Gazette, in writing about the passing of attorney Louise Replogle Rankin Galt who died last month at age 90, reported that she was involved in a court case related to the Mann Gulch Fire. Obviously litigation following fatal fires is not a recent phenomenon.

Replogle unsuccessfully sued the federal government seeking more than the $225 burial allowances for the families of each of the 13 firefighters, including 12 smokejumpers, killed in the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire, her niece, Candace Johnson Kruger, of Columbia Falls, recalled.


Thanks go out to Wendy

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

4 thoughts on “Wildfire briefing, December 9, 2013”

  1. The same was true of the 14 missionaries who died on the Rattle snake fire. There were no law suits (that I know of). My mother got the federal life insurance and survivor benefits (my Father was full time) but had to sign a waver. She got remarried and lost her benefits but my sister and I continued ours until 18 years of age, Like $200 a month for both of us. Counting me and my sister there were 23 children left fatherless. I do not know if any of the other families had any other income.

  2. The Galt Family is the second largest landowner in Montana at almost 250,000 acres. They use a Bell Jet Ranger to get around their ranch in central Montana.
    Louise Galt is the daughter of Wellington Rankin. The family has long been involved in Republican politics in Montana.

  3. Regarding the Mann Gulch suit, it does not surprise me. The government is very needy, but when a crisis is over, very forgetful (and neglectful). Always has been, dating back to the Revolution. Or, as Kipling would have it: “It’s Tommy this, and Tommy that, and chuck him out, the brute, but it’s ‘saviour of his country’ when the guns begin to shoot.” Seems like they don’t treat WFFs any different than those of us in the military …


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