RMRS-RP-9
Research Paper RMRS-RP-9
Fire Behavior Associated with the 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, Colorado


Appendix B: Chronology, Fire Behavior, Weather, Distances, Firefighter Travel Rates, and Fire Spread Rates

Table B-1--Chronology, fire behavior, and weather.


Time

Firefighters

Fire/Weather

Source



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - July 2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1800 South Canyon Fire ignited by lightning. Jo Temple


Time

Firefighters

Fire/Weather

Source



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - July 3 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1000 Observer in South Canyon calls in fire. Unsure which side of the river it is on. Tentatively called South Canyon. Putnam
1030 Call to Sheriff accurately locates fire on north side of river on BLM land. Jo Temple
1100 Sheriff reports South Canyon Fire to BLM. SCR
1410 Sheriff's office reports fire at half an acre and very active and Sheriff approves use of aircraft. SCR
1416 BLM dispatch requests one load of smokejumpers, an air tanker (T-140), and lead plane (64) to initial attack fire. SCR
1508 Dispatcher cancels initial attack, routes smokejumpers to another fire. Fire 1.5 acres in size and burning in continuous fuels. SCR


Time

Firefighters

Fire/Weather

Source



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - July 4 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1200 Fire covers approximately 3 acres. SCR
1450 Local resident reports increased fire activity. SCR
1630 BLM crew watches fire from freeway. Decides to wait until morning to initial attack.
2109 Aerial observer reports fire burning in all directions. Recommends bucket drops. SCR
2200 Fire covers about 11 acres. SCR


Time

Firefighters

Fire/Weather

Source



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - July 5 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
0630 BLM crew (Blanco and six firefighters) start up East Drainage. SCR
0819 Blanco requests more resources. Fire reported to be 29 acres in size. SCR
1500 Air tanker makes drop on freeway side of fire. SCR
1730 BLM firefighters start to exit area via West Drainage to repair saws. SCR
1745 Eight smokejumpers orbit fire; they jump in light, erratic winds. Mackey is Jumper-in-Charge and is in radio contact with Blanco. Fire 30 acres in size, smokejumpers report erratic winds SCR
Doehring
1944 Mackey reports fire burning actively. Active burning SCR
2000 Smokejumpers start building fireline down east side of Main Ridge. SCR
2230 BLM firefighter crew finish repairing saws and gear. Fire covers 50 acres. SCR
2300 Mackey requests two Type-1 crews. SCR


Time

Firefighters

Fire/Weather

Source



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - July 6 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
0030 Eight smokejumpers stop building line due to poor footing and rolling rocks. SCR
0300 Fire burning actively. SCR
0530-
0630
Eleven person BLM/USFS crew start up East Drainage to fire. Blanco is Incident Commander (IC). Ryerson
0528 Mackey requests helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft. SCR
0800 Blanco's crew (BLM/USFS) reach Main Ridge and construct second helispot (H-2). SCR
0815 Smokejumpers and BLM crew begin building fireline between H-2 and H-1. SCR
0845 Blanco and Mackey plan strategy and tactics. SCR
0930 Helicopter 93R arrives. Blanco, Tyler, and Mackey take a recon flight. Mackey tells smokejumpers to
start building fireline down the West Flank. Smokejumpers question decision and request discussion.
Smoke observed low in West Drainage. SCR
*1027 Eight more smokejumpers arrive over fire. Jumper-in-Charge Hipke requests that Longanecker become Jumper-in-Charge for this plane load. Very little wind. Fire covers about 127 acres. SCR
1113 Completed jumping and cargo drop. SCR
1130 Combined smokejumper crews start down route flagged by Mackey. Longanecker is line scout. SCR
1135 Firefighters discuss pulling out of West Flank Fireline. Tree 40 yards below main ridge torches. 5-ft wide run through Gambel oak burns to the top of the ridge. Water drops cool it. Petrilli
Doehring
1200 Prineville Hotshots arrive at Canyon Creek Estates helibase. SCR
1230 Ten Prineville Hotshots leave helibase for H-2. SCR
1300 Most firefighters retreat 400 ft to the Tree. Water drops are effective so group returns to the Stump and continues working. Fire flares up on West Flank. The tree that flares up is cut down, leaving the Stump. SCR
1330 Nine Prineville Hotshots start down West Flank Fireline, Kelso in charge, meet smokejumpers at
Stump.
Scholz
1400

Scholz and second half of Prineville Hotshots at Canyon Creek Estates.

 

West Flank Fireline Group and smokejumpers eat lunch on Lunch Spot Ridge.

Strong gusty winds, overcast skies. Front approaching. Windsock horizontal (15 miles
per hour winds).

Scholz

 

 

SCR

1415-
1430
Scholz calls Shepard to report increased wind and fire becoming more active. Shepard confirms it was windy on Main Ridge. Increased smoke on fireline low in canyon and south of fireline below crew. Scholz
Photos: Frey
1445 Longanecker starts down Double Draw to scout fireline. Hotspots in Double Draws. SCR
1510 Longanecker calls for sawyers. A few jumpers start to move south from Lunch Spot and east in to Double Draws. Flareup in Double Draws. Petrilli, SCR
1515 Scholz and second half of Prinevile Hotshots arrive at H-2. Blanco, Shepard, Scholz confer. Squirrely winds on H-2. Winds very light at Zero Point. SCR
1520 Cold front arrives. Steadily increasing but erratic winds. SCR

Time

Firefighters

Fire/Weather

Source
1530 Second half of Prineville crew lined out on Main Ridge. Start at H-2 improving line toward H-1. Told to make it 20 ft wide. When firefighters throw brush up into air on Main Ridge, strong winds blow it over ridge to east. Scholz
Scholz carries 2 cubitainers of water down West Flank Fireline. Haugh and Brixey about 150 ft below Zero Point. Winds gusty on top of line. No wind down West Flank Fireline. Sun begins to break through. Scholz
Some BLM/USFS eat lunch on Main Ridge, others working near H-1. Calm wind, fire burning in litter under oak brush. Byers
Doehring, Erickson, sent by Mackey to go back toward Main Ridge and hotspot line. Hipke working along the fireline from Lunch Spot toward Zero Point. Most of the West Flank Group working between 1450 and 1880 ft from Zero Point. Winds pick up on Lunch Spot Ridge but subside on West Flank Fireline. SCR,
Erickson
Doehring
1539 Scholz meets Roth at stump (850 ft). They move log off line and talk briefly. No wind on West Flank. Sunny, skies clearing. Scholz
Time: Putnam
1545 Longanecker gets water drop. Smokejumpers spread between Lunch Spot and Petrilli Photo Point. Continued fire activity south of the Double Draws. Petrill
Longanecker
Some members of BLM crew take break at base of rocks under H-1. Wind at rocks calm to 5 miles per hour. Byers
Scholz leaves water with Roth and starts back up line to Main Ridge. No wind on West Flank, fire calm. Sunny on West Flank. Scholz
1553 Scholz at top of Main Ridge. Winds blowing about 45 miles per hour from the west. Scholz
Photo: Shepard
1554 Ryerson requests next water drop to go to main ridge. Spot crosses Main Ridge fireline and burning actively in green fuel. Spot fire on west side of Main Ridge, 200 ft south of Zero Point getting active. Ryerson
Byers
Scholz
1555 Erickson and Doehring move up West Flank Fireline, meet Roth at 850 feet. Roth says he will take water on toward Lunch Spot. Wind and fire calm on West Flank. Erickson
Doehring
Ryerson gets water drop on Main Ridge but water blew to east and misses fire. Pilot leaves to get another bucket of water. Spot fire active on Main Ridge south of Zero Point. Winds on Main Ridge estimated at 35 miles per hour. Ryerson
Good
Photo: Shepard
Petrilli and other smokejumpers south of Lunch Spot photograph crown fire south of Double Draws area. Call to Longanecker to pull out. Increased winds south of Lunch Spot (estimated at 35 miles per hour). Fire spreads rapidly upslope in pinyon-juniper and firs within fire perimeter. Three fire runs occur, flames are about 100 ft long. Petrilli
Longanecker
1556 Good sees spot fires in West Drainage. Heard firefighters talking about spots. Numerous spot fires near bottom of West Drainage. Good
1558 Erickson and Doehring leave Roth and start up West Flank Fireline. No wind on West Flank. Erickson
Doehring
1600 Scholz requests Main Ridge Group move to Zero Point to help with spot fire. Skies clear overhead, clouds over Storm King Mt. Winds 45 miles per hour from the west. Fire runs inside perimeter. Scholz
Wind blows Byer's hat off near spot fire on Main Ridge. SCR
Byers
Roth left Stump with cubitainer of water. Time: Putnam
1601 Eight smokejumpers 630 ft south of Lunch Spot. Longanecker lower on the south side of Double Draws. Smoke in bottom of West Drainage below smokejumpers. Main Ridge spot fire active in brush across line. Photos:
Petrilli
Shepard
Good

Time

Firefighters

Fire/Weather

Source
1602 Petrilli sees fire 35 yds north of base of Double Draws, calls Mackey. Mackey tells them to get out of draws. Petrilli and other smokejumpers hike toward Lunch Spot. Fire starts rapid run up the east-facing slope across the West Drainage from smokejumpers. Fire also burning up the West Drainage. Petrilli estimates winds of 35 miles per hour at his location. Petrilli
1603-
1607
Someone calls dispatch requesting retardant, heard to say "we have a real bad situation here." Longanecker
1604 Kelso calls Shepard to report spot fire had crossed West Drainage below West Flank Fireline Group. Shepard, "Get out of there."Kelso, "We are on our way." Scholz, "Things are getting complicated." Fire in West Drainage. Strong winds on Main Ridge, Spot fire on Main Ridge is active Shepard
Scholz
Roth meets Thrash, Hipke, Hagen on West Flank Fireline at 1,450 ft. Talked 30 sec then saw column. Column of smoke in West Drainage behind (south of) and below Lunch Spot Ridge. Erickson
Hipke
Shepard relays message about spot fire to Main Ridge Group, Blanco relays to Ryerson, Mackey. Gray checks his watch. Statement by Main Ridge Group individuals "remember this time." Strong winds. Scholz
Gray-SCR
Erickson and Doehring meet Archuleta on West Flank Fire line near 450 ft, they hear order to get out. No wind on West Flank but building column of smoke visible to south over West Drainage. Erickson
Doehring
Blanco and Shepard at H-2 tell crews on Main Ridge at Zero Point to go to H-1. Column building in West Drainage. Photo: Shepard
1605 Three smokejumpers and West Flank Fireline Group leave 1,450 ft with Thrash, Roth, Hipke Hipke and Hagen. Column of smoke noticeably bigger. Erickson
Last water drop on Main Ridge. Good sees very large column and spots, returns to helibase to drop bucket so that he can ferry firefighters off hill. Column greatly increases in size, west winds 45 miles per hour or greater over Main Ridge. Chin strap needed on hard-hats. Good
Ryerson
Crews at Zero Point on Main Ridge start moving toward H-1 through cooled spot fire. Bucket drop cooled spot on Main Ridge. Winds very strong. Scholz
Thirty smokejumpers arrive by bus 1/4 mile west of base of West Drainage. They go to Canyon Creek Estates when fire blows up.
1606 Erickson, Doehring, and Archuleta at Tree, they meet Haugh and Brixey. Tells Haugh of order to go to H-1. Haugh calls Blanco about spot fire across drainage, Blanco responds to get out. Gray-black smoke in column, then flames reach top of east-facing slopes across West Drainage from jumpers. Fire is moving north up the drainage. Doehring
Erickson
Brixey
Haugh
Petrilli and seven smokejumpers meet Mackey 100 ft below Lunch Spot. Mackey tells smokejumpers to head up ridge toward H-1. Fire rolls up the east-facing slopes across West Drainage. Winds blowing 45 miles per hour. Petrilli
Thomas
Shepard
1607 Mackey checks on Longanecker by radio then moves north toward West Flank Fireline Group. Time: Putnam
Longanecker
Hipke near Stump at 830 ft. Sees fire on their (east) side of West Drainage. Fire on West Bench north of Lunch Spot Ridge. Fire front forms a "U" shape in bottom and up both sides of West Drainage. Hipke
Time: Putnam
Petrilli and seven smokejumpers pass Lunch Spot and continue toward H-1. Time: Putnam
1608 Mackey at 1,450 ft, running. Fire on West bench behind Mackey. Time: Putnam
Doehring, Archuleta, Brixey head to top of West Flank Fireline.
1608:30 Haugh, Erickson hear fire roar. They see first smokejumpers in West Flank Fireline Group coming across top of Spur Ridge. Fire on Bench near Jumper Start Point (1,450 ft) and near West Flank Fireline. Haugh
Erickson
Time: Putnam

Time

Firefighters

Fire/Weather

Source
1608:40 Hipke on top of Spur Ridge (680 ft), sees Mackey at end of West Flank Fireline Group. Fire's northward spread keeping pace with northward movement of firefighter crews. Fire crosses the West Flank Fireline near 1,450 ft. Hipke
Time: Putnam
1609 Main Ridge Group, BLM/USFS group near Rocks on Main Ridge. Scholz commands Hotshot Crew to "Reverse and move!" Ryerson tells her Crew to go to H-2. Fire rapidly moving up slope toward Rocks and H-1. Robertson
Scholz
Byers
Time: Putnam
A jumper radios "We're headed for a good spot." Sounds winded, urgent. Shepard
1610 Walking steadily from the Double Draws, Longanecker arrives at Lunch Spot. Time: Putnam
Doehring, Archuleta, Brixey reach Main Ridge. First part of Main Ridge Group passing Zero Point on their way to H-2. Doehring
Time: Putnam
Erickson, who is at the Tree, sees hardhats of the West Flank Fireline Group as they cross over Spur Ridge. Thrash is in the lead and Mackey is second to last in line. Erickson can see fire behind and below the hardhats. He and Haugh yell at the firefighters to go faster. Erickson calls Mackey to tell him about the fire behind the Spur Ridge. Fire front burning on south side of Spur Ridge near Stump. Time: Putnam
1610:30 Thrash nears Draw (445 ft), says "Shelters?" Hipke keeps moving up fireline. Hipke
Erickson sees Spot Fire down the slope directly west and below the West Flank Fireline Group. Spot Fire is burning on northwest corner of West Bench, about 75 ft north of the Draw that runs down the slope from the Tree to the West Drainage. Growing rapidly. Erickson
Time: Putnam
Erickson at Tree (200 ft) radios Mackey to warn him about Spot Fire. Fire on south side of Spur Ridge "roars" as it burns up the slope past the Stump and crosses the fireline. Erickson
Time: Putnam
1610:45 Archuleta and Doehring at Photo Point on Main Ridge. Archuleta asks Doehring for her camera. Haugh and Erickson at Tree. Erickson asks Haugh to get his (Erickson's) camera out of his pack. Fire burning uphill behind Spur Ridge near Stump and across west slopes of West Drainage. Erickson
Time: Putnam
1611 Blanco at H-2 calls Dispatch and says that they are losing the fire and to send air tankers. Blanco
Archuleta and Doehring on Main Ridge 110 ft north of top of West Flank Fireline at Photo Point, Archuleta takes two photos of Mackey and two of the firefighters located about 580 ft down the fireline from the Zero Point. Doehring takes two photos of same area then starts moving to H-2. Sky is orange. Photos:
Archuleta
Doehring
Time: Putnam
Erickson at Tree frames one photo at similar angle to Archuleta, but is out of film. Erickson
Time: Putnam
1611:15 Haugh, Erickson start up fireline. Hipke at 325 ft. Archuleta walks to the "Y" (a fork in the trail located about 60 ft south of the Zero Point). Fire "roars" on way up to Main Ridge south of Spur Ridge. Erickson
Archuleta
Time: Putnam
1612 Hipke at Tree (200 ft). Time: Putnam
Helicopter approaches H-2, pilot sees firefighters running north along Main Ridge, towering smoke column obscures area to the south near H-1. Fire along top of Main Ridge between H-1 and Spur Ridge, 150 to 200 ft flame lengths. Good
Last of Main Ridge Group and Byers pass top of West Flank Fireline (Zero Point) and follow trail that drops off east side of ridge on a contour toward H-2. Fire front at base of Spur Ridge about to enter draw below "Tree." Time: Putnam

Time

Firefighters

Fire/Weather

Source
1612:15 Roth and Thrash start to deploy. West Flank Fireline Group stop behind them. Time: Putnam
Scholz, about 80 ft north of Zero Point, looks back to southwest and sees fire "curling" over the ridge behind firefighter running down the trail toward him. Fire on south side of Spur Ridge crests Main Ridge 150 to 200 ft south of Zero Point. Scholz
1612:30 Haugh crosses over Main Ridge at top of West Flank Fireline and starts down into the East Drainage. Haugh receives slight burns. Hot air and radiant heat in area near top of West Flank Fireline as fire crests the Spur Ridge. Fires active on Main Ridge. Wind blowing toward H-2. Erickson,
Haugh, Scholz,
Robertson
Time: Putnam
Blecha steps around West Flank Fireline Group and continues up fireline. Time: Putnam
1612:45 Erickson crosses over the Main Ridge at the top of the fireline and receives second degree burns.
1613 Doehring reaches H-2, heads into East Drainage. Smoke and sparks in air. Doehring
Time: Putnam
Archuleta and Robertson walk on Main Ridge trail near Photo Point and feel heat. Hot air or radiant heat, smoke and sparks on top of Main Ridge. Robertson
Time: Putnam
Shepard, Blanco, Browning, Tyler move red bags near H-2. Shepard
1613:15 Scholz approaches H-2 from trail on east side of Main Ridge. Dolmars on Main Ridge between Photo Point and H-2 explode. Scholz
1613:30 Ryerson feels heat at H-2. Saws and dolmars left near red bags. Ryerson
Byers
Robertson
Fire overruns and kills 12 members of West Flank Fireline Group (200 to 280 ft down West Flank Fireline from Zero Point). Fire, hot gases and smoke at bottom of fatality site. Time: Putnam
Tyler, Browning run north of H-2 along Main Ridge.
1613:45 Blecha caught by hot gases/flames. He dies 121 ft from top of Main Ridge. Time: Putnam
1614 Blast of hot air hits Hipke, he hits ground 15 ft west of Zero Point. Hipke gets up, removes pack as he crosses east edge of Main Ridge and headed down into East Drainage. Hipke receives third degree burns over 10 percent of his body. Hot air, flames, and smoke on Main Ridge between H-1 and Zero Point. Hipke
Time: Putnam
Main Ridge Group, BLM/USFS, Smokejumpers heading off Main Ridge into East Drainage. Heat pushes firefighters over edge of Main Ridge. Ryerson,
Scholz,
Byers, Good
1614:30 Last of Main Ridge Group below red bags head farther into East Drainage. Smoke, hot air, sparks at H-2 and on red gear bags. Fusees with gear ignite. Robertson
Scholz
Shepard
Time: Putnam
1615 BLM/USFS, Main Ridge Group, Smokejumpers several hundred feet down East Drainage. Two helitack crewman cut off from East Drainage. Flames near top of Main Ridge at H-2. Fire advances through saddle below Drop Zone and into top of East Drainage. Dolmars (probably near red bags) explode. Navarro,
Scholz, Byers,
Ryerson
Time: Putnam
Turbulence and smoke force helicopter to leave. Good
1618 Six of eight jumpers hiking up ridge reached burned area on Lunch Spot Ridge below H-1. Time: Putnam

Time

Firefighters

Fire/Weather

Source
1619 Eight smokejumpers on Lunch Spot Ridge deploy fire shelters. They form two groups, six approximately 230 ft below edge of H-1, two others about 100 ft further down ridge. Jumpers call Mackey and get no response. Petrilli
1622:30 Two Helitack (Tyler and Browning) overrun and are killed in tight draw (1,960 ft northwest of H-2). Fire advances to draw below rock outcrop northwest of H-2. Time: Putnam
1624 All eight smokejumpers under shelters. Petrilli checks his watch. During next 45 minutes the fire makes three runs toward upper end of Double Draws approximately 500 ft south of eight smokejumpers. Petrilli
1715-
1730
Main Ridge Group, BLM/USFS, Smokejumpers reach I-70 freeway. Firefighters moving down East Drainage, see spot fires in East Drainage. Scholz
Haugh
1800 Main Ridge Group, BLM/USFS, Smokejumpers on freeway taken to Glenwood Springs. Archuleta returns to helibase at Canyon Creek Estates. Fire burns to mouth of East Drainage. SCR
Longanecker hiked to Lunch Spot Ridge deployment site. Smokejumpers out of shelters, they spread out, some walk to West Flank Fireline fatality site and begin search and rescue. Fire burns through entire West Flank, but area between Lunch Spot Ridge and H-2 is cool enough to walk through. Petrilli
1900-
2000
Smokejumpers from Lunch Spot Ridge deployment site arrive at H-2. Archuleta and 25 or 26 smokejumpers are ferried in by helicopter to continue search and rescue. Smokejumpers from shelter deployment on Lunch Spot Ridge ferried from fire. Smokejumpers conducting search walk out West Drainage after dark. Petrilli
Little
2100 Fire activity diminishes. Fire estimated to have burned 2,000 acres.


Time

Firefighters

Fire/Weather

Source



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - July 11 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Fire is declared controlled. Total burned area is 2,115 acres. Russo and
Williams 1995,
SCR

Back to Appendix B


Main Page | Executive Summary | The Authors, Acknowledgements, and Preface
Introduction | Fire Behavior Overview | Fire Environment | Fire Chronology | Fire Behavior Discussion
Conclusions | References | App. A | App. B | App. C | Abstract | About RMRS
Ordering a Printed Copy


Title: Appendix B: Table B-1 RMRS-RP-9 - Fire Behavior Associated with the 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, Colorado
Publish Date: February 5, 1999
Last Update:
December 22, 2005

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