Sadler Fire: 15 years ago today

On August 9, 1999, six members of a 20-person National Park Service hand crew made up of “militia” personnel, not full time firefighters, became entrapped in the Sadler Fire near Elko, Nevada. The six that were entrapped were transported to a hospital. Two of them had second degree burns on their faces and necks and some were coughing severely. Three people were admitted to the hospital and remained there overnight before being released the next day. They were expected to fully recover.

The work environment that enabled the entrapment was created from a stunning number of mistakes, oversights, errors in judgement, and sheer laziness in incident management.

After the investigation, the Type 1 Incident Management Team was disbanded and five members of the Command and General Staff had their qualifications pulled until they could be recertified.

This is one of the rare examples that we have heard about where very serious, inexcusable, life-threatening errors resulted in real negative consequences for those responsible. Of course it is likely that due to privacy regulations, we do not hear about disciplinary action that may take place behind the scenes.


More information:

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.