Storm King Mountain Fire: The South Canyon Fire

900 Words 4 Pages
The South Canyon Fire
The South Canyon fire was a major fire that occurred on July 2, 1994, seven miles from a town in Colorado named Glenwood Springs. The fire was on Storm King Mountain and burned about 2,115 acres of land and took 14 lives with it. Some major causes of the fire were high temperatures, droughts throughout that year, and low humidity. This fire caused many families and friends to lose loved ones and changed the way firefighters today fight fires.
The fire on Storm King mountain on July 2, 1994 started from a thunderstorm, but many other factors also played in. During this year, there were droughts, high temperatures, and low humidity; a perfect recipe for a fire. Lightning struck on the mountain and ignited a fire in the forest,
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On July 4, 1994, the district sent out two engines to fight the fire and the teams started at the base of the South Canyon and decided that they'd hike up the mountain more in the morning and begin fighting the fire (“South Canyon Fire”). The next morning, a seven person BLM or, fire service team, hiked for about two and a half hours, created a helicopter landing spot and then built a fireline (“South Canyon Fire”). The fire crossed the fireline, so they started to construct a new fireline on the west flank of the canyon. “A cold front moved over Storm King Mountain on the afternoon of July 6, 1994, pushing strong winds up the canyons surrounding the peak. The winds quickly spread fire uphill, through the tops of Gambel oaks. Earlier the fire had burned through the underbrush below the trees, drying them out and priming them to burn” (Darling). The new fire line these firefighters were building was causing them to walk right into these Gambel oaks. Firefighters usually have a safety zone, but these firefighters were so determined to get rid of this fire that they kept digging the fire line further away from their safety zone and were also moving deep into this vegetation that was ready to burn …show more content…
Many failed to escape or even failed to have an escape plan in case something did happen, which it did. The fire grew fast and the winds were strong, which made it harder to run from the fire. Many of the firefighters that passed away were the same ones that were building the fire line because they were too focused on digging the fire line, that they didn't even pay attention to their surroundings. Another factor that plays in was the failure to communicate. In the article, “South Canyon Fire in Glenwood Springs, Colorado,” the author states, “Despite the fact that they recognized that the situation was dangerous, firefighters who had concerns about building the west flank fireline questioned the strategy and tactics, but chose to continue with line construction” (“BLM Colorado”). These 14 deaths could have been easily prevented if these men and women followed all of the handbook rules and just spoke up about the situation and retreated because it was too dangerous, instead of risking their own lives. According to BLM and the investigation team, “Escape routes and safety zones were inadequate for the burning conditions that prevailed. The building of the west flank downhill fireline was hazardous. Most of the guidelines for reducing the hazards of downhill line construction in the Fireline Handbook (PMS 410-01) were not followed” (“BLM

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