To very briefly summarize what happened, while scouting a road for a potential burnout operation, a hotshot crew superintendent and foreman encounter a wall of flames and attempt to retreat. Their truck becomes stuck, forcing them to flee on foot, narrowly escaping the rapidly advancing fire front. Just as they reach safety, they learn that their crew lookout is missing. After nearly 40 agonizing minutes, the lead plane pilot locates her after she ignited an escape fire. It is a compelling story, which is pretty well summed up in this video.
Above: The truck that became stuck as the driver attempted to turn it around. The report describes it as “fire damaged”. Photo from the report.
The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have released more details about the near miss that occurred on the Horse Park Fire May 27 in a remote area of Southwest Colorado. The report disclosed that in addition to the two firefighters that had to flee from a stuck truck, a lookout in another location also fled on foot and ignited an escape fire at a potential fire shelter deployment site as the fire approached. According to the information released there were no injuries.
Below is the narrative from the “72 Hour Preliminary Report”:
“Two crew members were scouting a road for a potential burnout operation when their truck became stuck. They were unable to free the truck before the fire began to overtake them. The crewmembers made the decision to abandon the truck and take their gear with them. They fled back down the road and away from the fire. One crew member ran ahead and made it safely back to the other vehicles. The other crew member dropped his pack, keeping his fire shelter and radio with him. An additional crew member came up the road on a UTV to help him escape. The pair drove to the parking area where the other crew members were waiting in the vehicles.
“Meanwhile, the crew lookout was forced to flee from the lookout position by the same advance of the fire. Given the fire behavior, the lookout did not feel it was possible to outpace the fire and make it back to the vehicles, so instead moved down and away from the fire. The lookout dropped their pack, but kept the fire shelter, a tool, and radio. At some point during the escape, the lookout realized that the antennae was no longer attached to the radio and there was no way to communicate with the crew or other resources. After moving a considerable distance down a drainage, the lookout found a grassy spot that appeared suitable to deploy a shelter, and began lighting the fuels in the area. Before deployment was necessary, aerial resources located the lookout, who was picked up and flown back to the parking area to rejoin the crew.
“There were no injuries as a result of this incident. An Interagency FLA team, is in place and reviewing the incident.”
Videos recorded during the incident show firefighters hurriedly moving to safety while a radio conversation can be heard referring to the firefighters who escaped and the vehicle that was damaged.
BLM reports that a command vehicle is believed to have burned during initial attack
Above: 3-D map of the Horse Park Fire at 11:13 p.m. MDT May 30, 2018.
The Bureau of Land Management has released a 24-Hour Preliminary Report indicating that during initial attack on the Horse Park Fire in southwest Colorado on May 27, 2018 a command vehicle was abandoned and is thought to be a total loss. The driver was turning around when the vehicle got stuck. Due to the advancing fire, the driver and passenger had to flee on foot. There were no reports of injuries. In one of the videos shot at the fire you can hear a radio conversation about losing a vehicle but the firefighters made it out.
Wednesday night an infrared mapping flight found that the fire had not spread over the previous 24 hours. However, firefighters are reinforcing firelines in light of a Red Flag Warning and a forecast of strong winds out of the south Thursday afternoon at 22 mph gusting up to 37 mph with relative humidity levels in the single digits.
The Horse Park Fire has burned 1,240 acres in a remote area of San Miguel County 17 air miles south of Naturita and 40 miles west of Telluride.