Report released about entrapment of three firefighters on the Beaver Fire

Beaver Fire entrapment
Photo taken of the Beaver Fire the day after three firefighters were entrapped. It was shot from along the Klamath River about a mile west of the Incident Command Post, looking in the direction of the entrapment, which occurred beyond the smoke visible in this photo taken by Bill Gabbert.

A facilitated learning analysis has been released about the entrapment of three firefighters August 11, 2014 on the Beaver Fire northwest of Yreka, California.

Entrapped that day were a Dozer Operator (DZOP), a Heavy Equipment Boss (HEQB), and a Heavy Equipment Boss Trainee (HEQBt). They all got inside fire shelters in a small deployment site that was not large enough to qualify as a safety zone. Their injuries included some first and second degree burns, but overnight hospitalization was not required.

The dozer operator’s story in his own words:

By the time I got off the dozer, the fire had closed in on two sides—and was closing in on my third and fourth sides. I worked as long as I could to get us more protection. I intended to push up more berms. Embers were falling everywhere. I spent too much time getting dug in. I backed the cat in. I should have deployed sooner. My intent was to get us all together under the dozer. I was not in the best position.

I tossed off my ball cap, put my hard hat on, grabbed my gloves and shelter. I had my web gear bungeed to the cage. I grabbed it quick and rolled in the dirt under the dozer. I pulled the shelter’s tabs, but they didn’t work. So I ripped at it to get it open.

It was a confined space so it took a while to get the shelter open. I had to physically unfold every fold to get it deployed. That’s when my leg got a little scorched. Overall, the shelter worked the way it was supposed to. Those shelters no doubt saved our lives.

The video below includes videos and still photos taken during the entrapment.

beaver fire convection column
Don Hall sent us this picture of a convection column over the Beaver fire, saying it was taken at about the same time the three firefighters were entrapped.

We first wrote about the entrapment on August 12.

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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.

8 thoughts on “Report released about entrapment of three firefighters on the Beaver Fire”

  1. This is incorrect. The three people trapped were the DIVS C, HEQBt and ZDOP. The one filming was the HEQBt. The road was usable because it was blocked by a old cars and heavy equipment and there was not enough time left to clear it.

  2. Filming was actually a huge, huge, HUGE favor for those of us who are working hard to understand eruptive fires. Look at the convection and in-drafting winds and the ROS in these videos just before the guys deploy. Insane. I am grateful to whomever the guy was who was shooting the video.

    1. I totally agree with ya there, the filming was perfect for firefighters and instructors who like to learn and adapt to situations by watching these videos and getting more information so we can make 100% correct decisions when we are out there because we practiced and studied the material that we could use. This was a learning entrapment and happy to see that they are all safe and sound. God bless and God Speed


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