Report released for injuries to several smokejumpers on wildfire in Utah

Three of the seven jumpers were injured and evacuated by two helicopters

Injuries smokejumpers Miner Camp Peak Fire
Map from the FLA.

(Originally published at Fire Aviation)

The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center has released a Facilitated Learning Analysis for an incident within an incident. Three of the seven smokejumpers that parachuted into the Miner Camp Peak Fire on July 29 east of Meadow, Utah were injured when landing. (Map) Two injuries were to the hand or wrist and the other was diagnosed at the scene as a broken collar bone or at least the potential for one.

The jumpers were evacuated by two helicopters, an air ambulance and a helicopter with hoist capabilities.

The jumpers received the resource order for the fire at 8:30 a.m. on July 29 while they were engaged in physical training at Winnemucca, Nevada. Since some of them “like to run trails in the surrounding area”, they did not get off the ground until 10:30. Due to the delayed departure, the distance they had to fly, and multiple issues related to fuel, the seven jumpers did not arrive on the ground at the fire until 5 p.m.

You can read the FLA here. (2.1MB .pdf file)

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. Google+

7 thoughts on “Report released for injuries to several smokejumpers on wildfire in Utah”

  1. Right on JW!
    How about a discussion on why the delay in the IA response?
    As per the National User Guide – “Get Away Time – When dispatch receives a request for smokejumpers the fire buzzer is sounded. Smokejumpers are suited and airborne within 15 minutes. A non standard request may increase the get-away time.”
    With the area having ” been busy with fire activity for several months” and the Geographic Area moving to a PL 5 the same day, one would think that an IA load would be ready and available.
    2 hours later is not acceptable!
    Also, getting an earlier start would have put them over the fire closer to mid afternoon, even with the fuel delays. Perhaps the air may have been more stable for the jumpers, instead of late afternoon during the peak burning window.

    1. If the order had reached the jumpers earlier they would have suited up instead of doing PT. It looks like the biggest delay on the day in question was due to fueling/aircraft problems.

      1. The order came in at 0830.
        Re-read the National User Guide.
        Are you telling us that smokejumpers cannot forego a PT “trail run” in times of high fire danger?
        An IA load should have been available at 0800, with a 15 minute get a way.
        It’s this exact kind of thing that gives the SJ program a bad name and jumpers castigated as prima donnas.

        1. If you look for the pertinent details when you read the report, you will see the jumpers had no orders when they arrived at 0800 and were released for PT. They were gone when the pilot and spotter went to the airport for the morning briefing and were handed the order around 0830.

          “The morning of July 29 there were no known assignments from the night before when they checked in at 0800. The Jumpers were released to do PT (physical training). The Pilot and the Spotter went to the airport for the morning briefing and at around 0830 were handed a resource order for a jump.”
          The jumpers would not have been released for PT had they received the order the night before or when they first arrived. If you want to call jumpers prima donnas and badmouth them here, that’s a you problem. The facts show that they didn’t have the order when they left for PT. Moreover, they wouldn’t pass up a fire jump for PT, and it’s ludicrous and ignorant to make that claim.

          1. Again, the jumpers were positioned due to ongoing fire activity in the area.
            The National User Guide states that there will be a 15 minute get a way time.
            Are you arguing with this? Clearly it was not met.
            There should have been a load available for IA. All the others could have been released for PT. The IA load could have done PT without taking off for a “trail run”.
            No where in my comments did I call the jumpers prima donnas or bad mouth them, I pointed out that shit like this is the reason why many units will not utilize smokejumpers and consider them prima donnas.

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