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Mann Gulch fire: a race that couldn't be won

Author(s): Richard C. Rothermel
Year Published: 1993

The Mann Gulch fire, which over ran 16 firefighters in 1949, is analyzed to show its probable movement with respect to the crew. The firefighters were smokejumpers who had parachuted near the fire on August 5, 1949. While they were moving to a safer location, the fire blocked their route. Three survived, the foreman who ignited an escape fire into which he tried to move his crew, and two firefighters who found a route to safety. Considerable controversy has centered around the probable behavior of the fire and actions of the crew members and their foreman. Modern safety techniques used by 73 firefighters who escaped injury after being trapped on the Butte Fire in 1985 are described for comparison.

Citation: Rothermel, Richard C. 1993. Mann Gulch fire: a race that couldn't be won. Gen. Tech. Rep. GTR-INT-299. Ogden, UT: USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 10 p.
Topic(s): Human Dimensions of Fire Management, Human Factors of Firefighter Safety, Crew Dynamics, Organizational Learning & Innovation
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 11196
FRAMES RCS number: 6167
Record updated: Apr 17, 2018