FLA released on escaped prescribed fire on Bridger-Teton NF

Facilitated Learning Analysis has been released for a prescribed fire that escaped in June on the Bridger-Teton National Forest about 70 miles northwest of Rock Springs, Wyoming. I was not able to find in the report the extent of the escape, or how many acres it burned.

Below is the Executive Summary of the report:


“At 1752 on June 10, 2014 the Pole Creek Prescribed Burn was declared a wildfire. The burn was located on the Bridger-Teton NF on the Kemmerer RD, approximately 25 miles northeast of Kemmerer, WY. The burn units were comprised of mixed conifer and associated with stands of aspen and separated by sage/grass meadows at elevations between 7400’ and 9200’. The objective of the burn was to use stand-replacing burns to encourage the return of aspen stands.

Prescribed fire activities for the Pole Creek project began on the morning of Saturday, June 7th. A Type 2 Burn Boss and Burn Boss Trainee provided leadership for the day’s operations. One hundred acres were successfully treated by the end of the day, and additional resources were requested to assist with the operation for the following day.

Late Sunday afternoon ignitions began on a 150-acre unit. Due to a miscommunication between the Burn Boss and one of the firing teams, the firing pattern was not completed as originally intended, producing very active fire behavior and spotting more than a half mile in front of the fire. Ignition operations ceased as fire personnel focused on locating and controlling spot fires. That evening the Burn Boss ordered three hotshot crews and a helicopter to assist with the spots the following shift.

Monday morning two of the three hotshot crews were canceled and the assigned resources focused on controlling the spots. Discussions started late Sunday between the burn overhead and Forest fire managers on whether to resume burning the unit, or to cease operations. A meeting was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon to make this decision.

At 1600 Tuesday the Burn Boss Trainee and Zone FMO (also acting as Firing Boss) attended the scheduled meeting to discuss the unfinished burn unit. During the meeting a spot weather forecast indicating the imminent passage of a cold front was transmitted to the fire, simultaneously the fire was experiencing high winds. A clump of trees along an open piece of line torched, spotted outside the unit and eventually slopped over the northern project boundary. High winds hindered attempts to control the spot fire, by the crews and helicopter on scene, which were ultimately not effective. Due to concerns of the fire spreading to a timber sale located north of the fire and the need for additional resources, the Burn Boss made the decision to declare the prescribed burn a wildfire.”

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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.

One thought on “FLA released on escaped prescribed fire on Bridger-Teton NF”

  1. Just another inadequate contingency plan. I’d like to see the rationale for not needing to identify contingency resources.


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