Trial date changed for Ellreese Daniels

30-mile fire memorial
30-mile fire memorial

Ellreese Daniels is facing criminal charges for his involvement in the fatal Thirty-Mile Fire. His trial date has been changed from April 14 to May 5. Here is more information about the trial from the Wenatchee World:

SPOKANE — A federal judge presiding over the case of Ellreese Daniels on Friday put off making a decision on whether the jury should be allowed to visit the site of the Thirtymile Fire north of Winthrop where four firefighters died in 2001.

Daniels is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter for failing to order his firefighters to a safe area as flames advanced toward him and his crew on July 10, 2001. He is also charged with seven counts of making false statements to investigators.

Daniels’ lawyer wants the jury to see the site because pictures and videos do not provide enough detail for the jury to judge if Daniels was negligent in not getting his crew to a safe spot.

“To deny the jurors the ability to view the scene will significantly impair Mr. Daniels’ right to present the defense of his case,” Daniels’ lawyer wrote in a recent motion.

Prosecutors say the site is so well documented that there’s no need for the jury to see in person the place where 10 firefighters survived the fire in a wide spot on a road, while four died in their fire shelters on a rocky slope above.

The judge did not say when he will decide if the jury should visit the site, said prosecutor Tom Hopkins.

The judge did push back the trial date from April 14 to May 5.
The International Association of Wildland Fire conducted a survey of over 3,300 firefighters about the repercussions of a firefighter facing criminal charges following an accident on a fire. HERE is a summary of their findings.

Well Written Reviews of Two Wildland Fire Books

Towards the end of last year two books about wildland fire were published. The Thirtymile Fire,” by John N. Maclean, and “A Great Day to Fight Fire” by Mark Matthews. The topic of Maclean’s book is obvious. Matthews writes about the 1949 Mann Gulch fire, which Maclean’s father also covered in his book, “Young Men and Fire” which was finished in 1992 by others after his death.

A writer for the High Country News, Ray Ring, reviewed both new books, showing more understanding of fire than most reviewers. Here’s a sample where Ring writes about “A Great Day to Fight Fire“. (The entire review can be found on the Vail Trail site.)

“Matthews’ book on the gulch fire is the literary landmark there now. It’s also a kind of policy landmark. Matthews spends a few words on how the Mann Gulch deaths led to improvements in firefighting, but his underlying message is that, no matter what tactics we try, no matter what technologies we develop, wildfires will always be wild, chaotic and lethal. As global warming promotes more intense blazes, we can only reduce the risk of casualties by backing away from the flames. Let more fires burn on their own terms; that’s part of Matthews’ acceptance. And the next time prosecutors and next-of kin rush to assign blame for casualties, maybe we should hold off. The deaths and injuries radiating outward are already punishment enough. In the desperate moments when the flames come too close, we’re all perfect in our imperfections.”