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An analysis of Dodge's escape fire on the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire in terms of a survival zone for wildland firefighters

Author(s): Martin E. Alexander, Mark Y. Ackerman, Gregory J. Baxter
Year Published: 2009
Description:

The Wildland Fire Operations Research Group of FPInnovations-Feric Division in collaboration with the University of Alberta initiated a project in late 2007 at the request of its stakeholders to examine and define the limits of wildland firefighter safety and survival zones. Part of this project involves examining past wildfire incidents in relation to hindsight simulations of the thermal environment associated with the area of refuge taken by firefighters in various burn-over and entrapment situations. Here we examine the case involving the survival of Smokejumper Foreman Wag Dodge on the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire. Based on a thorough review of all the available written documentation and photographic evidence coupled with existing fire behavior knowledge and predictive models, new estimates are presented for the area burned by Dodge's escape fire (0.2 acre or 0.08 hectare) and the height of the flame front that swept around his 'island' of safety (10 ft or 3 m). The question of whether he was physically lifted off the ground during the ordeal is also touched on.

Citation: Alexander, M. E.; Ackerman, M. Y.; Baxter, G. J. 2009. An analysis of Dodge's escape fire on the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire in terms of a survival zone for wildland firefighters. In: The 10th wildland fire safety summit; 2009 April 27-30; Phoenix, AZ, Birmingham, AL. 27 p.
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Extreme Fire Behavior, Case Studies, Human Dimensions of Fire Management, Human Factors of Firefighter Safety
Ecosystem(s): Montane dry mixed-conifer forest
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
NRFSN number: 11020
FRAMES RCS number: 10939
Record updated: Jun 14, 2018