Post Independent: lessons learned after South Canyon Fire

South Canyon Fire
The blow-up at the South Canyon fire, July 6, 1994 between 1630 and 1700. The photo is from the report.

A newspaper based in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, the Post Independent, is publishing a series of articles commemorating the 20th anniversary of the South Canyon Fire that occurred just outside of town. Today’s piece concentrates on the lessons learned following the deaths of the 14 firefighters. In spite of the fact that they quoted this writer, it is worth reading.

Below is a brief excerpt that quotes Bill Hannenberg, who in 1994 worked on the White River National Forest in Meeker, Colorado. Today he is a Type 1 Incident Commander on the Portland National Incident Management Organization Team.

…Another improvement made after South Canyon, [Hannenberg] said, was in the way fire agencies, both federal land fire managers and local fire departments, communicate with each other and cooperate on fire incidents.

A criticism 20 years ago was that, with resources spread thin fighting dozens of fires across the Western Slope, the BLM decided to monitor the small lightning-caused fire on Storm King Mountain during the initial three days after it started.

Local fire agencies reportedly offered to hike up and put out the fire soon after it started, but were advised by BLM officials to wait until they could bring the more highly trained wildland firefighters in.

“The level of coordination between federal agencies and city or county fire organizations is much, much higher now,” Hahnenberg said. “There is also a greater emphasis on wildland fire training and capability with the local departments.”

Other articles in the Post Independent’s series about the South Canyon Fire are here, here, and here.

The public is invited to a commemoration to honor the 14 firefighters who died 20 years ago, July 6, 1994, on Storm King Mountain while fighting the South Canyon Fire. It will be held on July 6 from 4:45 p.m. until 6 p.m in Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Those 14 firefighters were: Kathi Beck, Tamera Bickett, Scott Blecha, Levi Brinkley, Robert Browning, Doug Dunbar, Terri Hagen, Bonnie Holtby, Rob Johnson, Jon Kelso, Don Mackey, Roger Roth, Jim Thrash, and Richard Tyler.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

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.

One thought on “Post Independent: lessons learned after South Canyon Fire”

Comments are closed.