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30 Mile Fire...Remembered (my title)
Yakima Herald-Tribune | June, 2001

Posted on 06/26/2002 4:54:22 PM PDT by joyce11111

Today is for mourning. Wednesday was for shock.

Four young lives, three from Yakima and one from Ellensburg, were claimed by the Thirtymile Fire near Winthrop. The four were part of a 21-member fire crew that was caught in a valley in the middle of the blaze. Four other firefighters were injured, including one Yakima man who is hospitalized in serious condition.

Families were notified in the early hours of Wednesday. Their grief spread as word of the deaths circulated.

Two teen-agers with college aspirations. A 21-year-old who wanted to be an engineer. A 30-year-old football hero and father of two.

Even those who didn't know them felt the loss.

For those who knew them and those who shared their profession, the pain often led to unashamed tears.

"It's a somber day," said Yakima Fire Chief Al Gillespie, who spent the day consoling fellow firefighters. "There's a lot of long faces around, and we all want to know what we can do to help."

Ellensburg's Tom L. Craven was a 30-year-old fire veteran who could outrun flames the way he once sprinted from linebackers on the gridiron at Central Washington University.

West Valley's Karen L. FitzPatrick, at 18 the youngest of the four, was a devout Christian who once battled a neighborhood brush fire while wearing pajamas.

Yakima's Devin A. Weaver, a 21-year-old outdoorsman and former curveball pitcher at Eisenhower High School, was headed to the University of Washington this fall.

West Valley's Jessica L. Johnson, 19, was a member of the West Valley High School swim team who incorporated firefighter training into her studies at Central Washington University.

A survivor who suffered severe injuries in the blaze is Yakima's Jason Emhoff, 21, who wanted to be a career firefighter.

"We know that the potential is out there," Gillespie said. "We face that every day. We know this is an issue we could face personally. We always hope it isn't us or someone we know."

These are things people remember about them:

Tom Craven

Tom Craven was the most experienced of those killed. He began working for the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter in 1990 and had been assigned to the Naches Ranger District since 1993.

His father, William, believes his son died trying to save others.

"He could run. He could turn on a dime. He stayed with his crew. I knew he could have outrun that fire," said William Craven, who said he had no details of how his son died, except for news reports.

"It could have been worse. It could have gotten my other three boys," William Craven said, explaining that three other sons are also fighting forest fires this summer, with one of them working as far away as Colorado.

The Craven name is well-known in Central Washington. William Craven said his family came to Roslyn in 1880 from Illinois, brought in to work during a strike in the coal mines. He noted that he went on to become the first African-American mayor in the state, elected to the position in 1975.

The family -- including brothers Ted, Tim, Tony and K.C., and sister Corrine -- was renown for its athletic exploits at Cle Elum High School. Tom Craven earned 11 varsity letters in four years and played in the East-West All Star Football Game in 1990.

After two years at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, Calif., he transferred to Central Washington University, where he played football and hosted a rap-music show on the campus radio station.

At Redwoods, Tom was the football team's most valuable offensive player in 1991, gaining 1,281 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns.

Tom played football in 1993-94 for CWU. He set a then school record with a 265-yard rushing effort in a playoff game at Linfield College in Oregon. In his final three games at Central, Tom ran for a total of 578 yards.

He is 12th on the school's all-time yardage list for running backs.

James Atterberry, a 1989 West Valley High School graduate, played with Tom during the 1993 season at CWU. He remembered the bullish running back as someone who simply would not be outworked.

"If we had to be there at 7, Tom would be there at 6:30," said Atterberry, who is president of High-5 Marketing in Seattle. His firm handles marketing for another CWU teammate, former Seattle Seahawk quarterback Jon Kitna.

"If it was cold, he never wore sleeves. He was tough as nails."

The grittiness on the field did not mask Tom's true personality. "He was just the nicest guy in the world. I'm in shock," Atterberry said.

Tom graduated from Central with a sociology degree.

He is survived by his wife, Evelyn, and two children, a 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

Karen FitzPatrick

She was the youngest, at 18. And Karen FitzPatrick had only been a firefighter for three weeks.

Those were the weeks after her June 8 graduation, the finish of her West Valley High School career in which she was an honor student, a soccer player, a noteworthy weightlifter, a photographer, a musician, a volunteer and, toward the end, a hopeful firefighter.

The 5-foot-8-inch, slender teen planned to go to college, probably at Yakima Valley Community College. She was thinking about being an emergency medical technician. She wanted to work for the Yakima Fire Department.

But first, she wanted to get some experience. She signed on at the Naches Ranger District to fight forest fires.

After a five-day wildfire training session, she went out on a recent fire in the Nile Valley, not too far from home. Then to another on the Columbia River.

This week was her third wildfire, though there was one in her earlier teens that doesn't quite count.

A few years ago, on July 4, a fire started in a vacant lot adjacent to her West Valley home. It threatened homes there, including hers (where she still lived at 18).

She leapt out of bed in her silk pajamas, her mother Kathie FitzPatrick said. She hefted two garden hoses and jumped over a 5-foot fence to soak the area.

"That made the big difference," her mother said.

But this year she was a genuine firefighter and looking forward to getting her first paycheck today.

Kathie FitzPatrick said her daughter was something of a contradiction. She loved evening gowns and the finer points of catering. But she also had a "rough, tough tomboy side."

As much as anything, Karen was known for her religious faith, her parents say.

Leslie Baer, owner of Valerie's Espresso on Yakima Avenue, remembers how important her former employee's new firefighting venture was to her.

"The last thing I can remember telling her was, 'I'm so excited you have this opportunity,'" Baer said.

The girl worked off and on at the espresso stand for two years. Baer said she got good grades, played volleyball, baseball and loved to sing.

"We're very shaken up. We're just really heartbroken and can't believe this has happened."

Kathie FitzPatrick said it hasn't hit her yet. The last time she saw her daughter, Monday, she was heading with her father, John, to practice driving a stick-shifted Suzuki sport-utility vehicle in the mountains. They stopped at a friend's house for prayer before coming home late.

"I'm glad they had that last time together," Kathie FitzPatrick said.

She tried to call her daughter Tuesday on the cell phone she always carried on her belt. No answer.

Now Karen FitzPatrick's family is trying to decide how to plan a memorial service, though they don't yet know what they'll have to bury.

Her mother said Wednesday, "I don't know if there's a body or not."

Jessica Johnson

Jessica Johnson's high school swimming coach recalls her as "a kid you couldn't not remember."

Holly Dunham-Wheeler said when she heard about the fire Tuesday evening, she knew her former student would be in the thick of it.

She said that when she heard of the deaths Wednesday morning, her heart sank.

Dunham-Wheeler paused to collect herself several times during a short conversation, alternately talking excitedly about a larger-than-life youngster she described as "squirrelly, loud, gutsy" and trying to cope with the loss of someone with so much promise.

"Her true passion became firefighting her senior year," Dunham-Wheeler said. "She tried to juggle the two, but often they collided. I talked with her about it, and because she wasn't someone I wanted to lose from the team, I gave her the freedom to pursue firefighting. She made it all the way to districts with us that year."

Family members, speaking through a friend, declined to comment Wednesday.

Jerry Craig, retired West Valley High School principal, recalls that Jessica swam in the morning, took classes all day and then went to fire cadet training in the evenings -- a full schedule even by an overachiever's standards.

"Jessica wanted to live life. She was a risk-taker but not in a bad way. Anyone who ever met her could see that," Dunham-Wheeler said. "I knew there was a high-risk factor in her passion. You just hope something like this would never happen."

As a volunteer, Jessica fit in at the West Valley Fire District.

"When she first came (to the fire district), she was as quiet as a church mouse," said Deputy Fire Chief Dave Leitch.

But eventually she was telling jokes, hanging out with the other firefighters and keeping herself in great shape, he said.

And when she was at a fire, "she was never in a big hurry to go home. She never had a bad attitude," Leitch said.

In 1999, she graduated from West Valley High School and started at Central Washington University. On weekends, she'd visit her parents and go out on calls for West Valley, Leitch said.

She'd even pop up during the week to participate in drills.

"She was probably skipping class," Leitch said with a smile.

Last year, she joined the state Department of Natural Resources to fight summer wildfires, while still helping out the West Valley District on weekends. And this summer, she joined the U.S. Forest Service.

Earlier this month, she helped battle a wildfire in the Nile area, off State Route 410. That blaze burned for more than two days and charred 250 acres.

Jessica was no rookie. She was what firefighters call a "fire fighter one," meaning she had experience and was closer to a supervisory position. "Fire fighter two" are beginners.

Jerry Craig's son, Nathan, was Jessica's boyfriend. Nathan Craig was notified of her death by Leitch at about 3 a.m. Wednesday and called his father a short time later.

"He's in the first stage of disbelief," Jerry Craig said of his son. "We were sitting at the West Valley fire station, and he said, 'Dad, every time that door opens, I think it's going to be Jess.'"

Nathan Craig recently purchased a boat, and he and Jessica spent time fishing on the Columbia River, a trip from which she returned with two fish while he was shut out.

"She gave him a lot of grief about that," Jerry Craig said.

Devin Weaver

Devin Weaver was a good kid known for being shy and quiet.

The kind of boy who excelled in school but who was upset about going to kindergarten at Nob Hill Elementary. Too many people for his liking.

"We had tears today," his father, Ken Weaver, remembered the kindergarten teacher saying as she held young Devin's hand after class.

As he grew up, the tears came less frequently, but the quiet, self-reliant nature continued.

At 21, Devin had the next chapter in his life decided. The Eisenhower High School graduate gave up on his return to the baseball diamond at Yakima Valley Community College this year and was headed to the University of Washington, where he planned for a degree in electrical engineering.

But before he went off to school, he yearned for an adventure. A job outdoors far from the family flower business.

"He was always conflicted between his IQ and his love of dirt," his father said.

The opportunity came when he met a childhood friend at a store. Jason Emhoff, who was critically injured in the Thirty Mile Fire, told Devin about his work as a wild land firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service.

Devin couldn't wait to join.

"He was just pumped," Ken Weaver said. "He worked really hard to get that job."

Devin was no stranger to hard work, said Mel Moore, a Yakima Youth Baseball board member who watched the right-handed pitcher grow up on the diamond. Weaver was a Little League All-Star, from his first at-bats to his teens. He was a varsity player on the Eisenhower squad.

Devin was never a fireballer who possessed a streaking fastball. He worked hard on the mound with changeups, sliders and curves.

"He was maybe as hard a worker as anyone I know," Moore said.

He was looking to return to the mound this year for YVCC. But an injury to his throwing arm proved too difficult for the control pitcher to overcome.

Outside baseball, Devin had a passion for the outdoors.

His mother, Barbara Weaver, remembers her son camping in the forest outside Nile in knee-deep snow.

Firefighting made sense for Devin.

"I was delighted for him; he was bored out of his mind," his father says.

When his mother saw a classified ad from the Naches Ranger District, she clipped it for her son.

"I helped him get that job," she said.

Devin ran carrying a 30-pound pack to prepare himself for the training session less than three weeks ago at West Valley High School.

"I want you to be the best one," Ken Weaver remembers telling his son. "There's no sense going out there if you're not going to be the best one."

Devin helped with mop-up work on a 250-acre forest fire in the Nile Valley earlier this month. He helped battle other smaller blazes around the Yakima Valley.

Barbara Weaver said she was scared every time.

"I'm a mom. That's my job," she told her son after he made fun of her for being so fearful.

When the call came for Devin at 1 a.m. Monday telling him he was needed to fight a forest fire in Okanogan County, his mother rose with him.

"She packed him a double lunch," Ken Weaver said.

Another call came at 1:07 a.m. Wednesday, a time that is etched into Ken Weaver's mind.

"I remember the words 'He didn't make it,' " Ken Weaver said.

Then he paused.

"I still expect him to walk through the door."

Devin's parents, grandparents and his two sisters gathered at the family's two-story home in Yakima in the hours following the phone call.

Emotions ranged from denial and grief to remembrance and rage.

"Those rookies had no business being there," his mother said.

"If that is standard procedure, they need to check the manual," his father said.

They want an investigation. They want to know why Devin died and the assurance that no more of his colleagues will perish.

And they are grieving.

"He was the friend I was going to take to the grave with me," Ken Weaver said.

Jason Emhoff

Jason Emhoff was the only member of his five-member firefighter crew that left the Chewuch River canyon alive Tuesday night. He is being treated in a Seattle hospital for burns over nearly a third of his body. When the 21-year-old Yakima man recovers, he will mourn his friends and remember the tragic moments of a job he cared deeply about.

"These were the people he worked with every day and on every fire," said his father, Steve Emhoff.

Jason, an Eagle Scout and longtime baseball player, was a squad leader with the wildlands fire group he worked with from March to the end of fire season in the fall.

"They trusted him," his father said. "They knew what he could do."

Years ago, the 1998 graduate of Eisenhower High School had started working in the forests for a private contractor. Last year, he began as a seasonal firefighter for the Naches Ranger District.

His father said his son knew the risks of his job. He knew about the deaths of 14 young firefighters in Colorado seven years ago. In fact, he had recently read a book about it.

"We had talked about it," Steve Emhoff said about the fatal tragedy. "He knew it was possible."

Yakima Herald-Republic

TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: usforestservice; wildlandfires

1 posted on 06/26/2002 4:54:22 PM PDT by joyce11111
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To: All
I will try to find more articles on last years KILLER fire in Washington.
2 posted on 06/26/2002 4:56:01 PM PDT by joyce11111
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To: joyce11111
30 Mile Fire\, A TIME TO MOURN Wall of Fire Trapped Four in Their Shelters


In the worst possible conditions, in a forest fire hours away from here, in a sudden explosion of flame, five local men and women were enclosed in a wall of fire Tuesday.

Four young people from Central Washington -- three from the Yakima Valley and one from Ellensburg -- died inside their individual fire shelters. A fifth made it out alive, though his body was nearly wrecked by burns.

What already promised to be a nightmare summer for Washington's wild-land fire crews became worse than they could have imagined. A fire that many thought was nearly beaten churned into a holocaust of sparks and heat and flame.

Up there in the narrow Chewuch River canyon near the Canadian border, about 30 miles north of the small town of Winthrop, 21 U.S. Forest Service firefighters had gone to do their jobs in the first hours of Tuesday. It was a small fire then -- maybe several dozen acres.

Tuesday afternoon, in not much more than two hours, that routine blaze turned monstrous. The "initial attack crews" were ordered to pull out when the fire was racing to cover an estimated 2,500 acres.

The fire caught up with the crews. It sped along the valley, cutting off escape routes, leaping across treetops.

The 21 seasonal firefighters and two campers were caught in the maelstrom. Five of the firefighters from the Naches Ranger District were Tom L. Craven, 30, of Ellensburg; Jason Emhoff, 21, of Yakima; Karen FitzPatrick, 18, of West Valley; Devin A. Weaver, 21, of Yakima; and Jessica L. Johnson, 19, of West Valley. There were another five from the Naches district who barely escaped serious injury.

Emhoff has spoken briefly about what happened from his bed at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center. This is how he described it, said his father, Steve Emhoff: The humidity dropped in the valley. The temperature climbed. The weather forced the fire higher into the trees, building a massive swirl of sparks.

Craven was assistant foreman for the Naches crew. Emhoff was a squad boss. They and others from Naches took to the narrow road along the canyon bottom. But sparks from the steep, southern slope were leaping onto the northern. On the road, Steve Emhoff said, "They came up against a wall of flames. They turned back around. They came up against another wall of flames." They had no way out.

They couldn't make it down to the river. Instead, they looked for a safe zone, a clearing with few trees.

All five deployed their personal fire shelters, which are small, aluminum-covered tents designed to protect firefighters who can't escape the flames. They covered themselves. They waited for the flames. But Jason Emhoff had a problem. He'd lost his fire-resistant gloves earlier. His hands were burning, and that misfortune probably saved his life.

He ran to a nearby rock to take shelter behind it, but he couldn't breathe inside the fog of smoke. So he made for the crew's firetruck.

"That's part of their training," his father said. "That's the last-ditch effort."

Jason Emhoff survived inside the cab of that truck. The other four members of his crew died.

Hours later, he was rescued by an Entiat, Wash., group of Hotshots, a highly trained crew of wilderness firefighters.

"When things cooled down, they went back to help," said Sonny O'Neal, the forest supervisor for the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests.

They found Emhoff, Weaver, Johnson, FitzPatrick and Craven in a clearing adjacent to the road.

"The fire had burned all around them," O'Neal said.

Those in charge of the firefighting pulled all personnel off the fire. They spent most of Wednesday watching the fire grow, waiting for the Forest Service's elite to take over in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, regional fire officials went to front doors. They woke family members of the victims. They told them what happened.

FitzPatrick's mother, Kathie, went to the door at 4 a.m. to find two men standing there with flashlights. She knew they had bad news. "There's nothing like losing a child," she said hours later.

Counselors were assigned to victims' families, and Gov. Gary Locke called them.

"I hope that Washingtonians will rally around the victims' families and support them in every way possible," the governor said in a statement.

Also Wednesday, a team of investigators began interviewing survivors to determine everything that happened from the start of the fire -- believed to have been caused by an unattended campfire -- to the time injured firefighters were hauled out.

Emhoff and his four crewmates weren't the only firefighters to use their shelters. Of the 21 Forest Service firefighters in the canyon, 13 resorted to that extreme measure, used only when there's no other option.

At least two were injured, including Scott Sherzinger, a 24-year-old Selah man, and Rebecca Welch, a 22-year-old from Naches.

Welch wasn't the only one in her own survival shelter. A couple who had been camping were there, too. Bruce and Paula Hagemeyer of Ellensburg crawled in with her.

"The fire was literally coming into the tent," said Mike Ferris, a spokesman for the Forest Service. All three were burned, but their injuries weren't serious enough for a hospital stay.

Sherzinger's family confirmed that he was faring well after being treated at an Okanogan County hospital. Injured firefighters still in the base camp chose not to talk with reporters late Wednesday.

Emhoff was the only one who required hospital time. And he'll need about two months of it, his father said.

His hands were deeply burned. They'll need skin grafts, surgery and physical therapy, though doctors say there's some possibility of amputation. He suffered burns to his face and ears. His chest, thighs, knees -- not much of him escaped unharmed.

His crewmates' bodies were expected to be recovered by this morning.

Some parents are outraged at the Forest Service for sending their teen-age children into such danger.

"Those rookies had no business being there," said Barbara Weaver, mother of Devin Weaver, who had only a few weeks of experience.

But this fire was small when they were sent. Forest Service officials called it a "mop up." Then dry conditions and unusually hot weather made the dozens of acres in the Okanogan National Forest erupt into a mammoth fire that burned an estimated 8,200 acres by Wednesday evening.

And firefighting professionals say its common to send the less-experienced people out with those who have a few more fires under their belts.

Karen FitzPatrick, like Devin Weaver, had only three weeks of experience after a week of training.

"That doesn't seem like very much," Kathie FitzPatrick said. But she also understood fires can be unpredictable, and fighting them is dangerous. "There are certain things you can't know about or be prepared for."

Steve Emhoff wants people to realize just how qualified his son and the other firefighters were to be there.

"They may have been young, but they were very well trained," he said. "Those four that perished were doing exactly what they were trained to do."

"They all had some experience on the ground," said Marge Hutchinson, who works at the Naches district. Craven worked with Naches since 1993. Emhoff was in his second season.

It's a job that attracts youth.

"There's just a romance that's associated with fighting wild-land fire," Ferris said. "Adventure, action, adrenaline."

But, he said safety is the primary goal.

"There's nothing more valuable out there than human life."

This is the biggest wildfire tragedy since 1994's deaths of 14 young firefighters in Colorado, said O'Neal.

After what happened Tuesday on the Chewuch River, the survivors won't be put back on duty there today.

In the aftermath of the four deaths, Naches District Ranger Randy Shepard said of the survivors, "They're taking it pretty hard."

Today, 600 firefighters from around the country are expected to replace that devastated crew. They'll face continuing heat in the Okanogan high country, with highs hitting 95 today, according to the National Weather Service office in Spokane. Thunderstorms could also hit, bringing fire-squelching rain, but also the possibility of fire-starting lightning.

Showers and thunderstorms are expected in the area through Tuesday with temperatures dropping into the 70s, the weather service said.

Even after the fire is out, this event will live on. Something like this affects more than just the victims and their families. These deaths echo everywhere.

"It's a reminder that this job, no matter how we train and drill, no matter how mentally prepared we are, bad things can happen," said Tom Schneider, a veteran in the Yakima Fire Department.

"It's like losing one of your own family."

For Emhoff, it was like losing four, his father suggested, including one of his best friends, Weaver.

Emhoff's family hasn't talked with him yet about what happened to his crew. He's still medicated and often delirious. Steve Emhoff said he will choose the right time to tell his son of the tragedy.

Not that he won't be running it through his mind for a long time. That fire is the last thing he'll see for a while. The burns have swollen his eyes shut.

n Reporters Tom Roeder and Liz Dailey contributed to this story.

3 posted on 06/26/2002 5:08:34 PM PDT by joyce11111
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To: joyce11111
I haven't forgotten. Photos of the four who died on the altar of "endangered species" here:

Firefighters who were there tell the story of the deadly Thirty Mile blaze: 'It's snowing fire'

I want to weep each time I see them, from both sadness and anger.

4 posted on 06/26/2002 5:45:06 PM PDT by snopercod
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To: snopercod
Thanks for the posting of that article, I didn't have that one.
5 posted on 06/26/2002 6:52:31 PM PDT by joyce11111
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To: joyce11111; Grampa Dave
I was looking for this earlier; thanks joyce11111.

Grampa Dave -- I think you were looking for this too.
6 posted on 06/26/2002 7:01:44 PM PDT by brityank
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To: snopercod
Wenatchee and Okanogan National Forests 215 Melody Lane......Wenatchee, WA 98801.........509-662-4335

Date: July 16, 2001

Subject: Investigators Pinpoint Preliminary Findings in Fire Deaths

Contact: Ron DeHart, 509/997-2131

Several preliminary findings have been identified by the federal team investigating the July 10 deaths of four U.S. Forest Service employees in the Thirtymile Fire north of Winthrop, Washington.

The investigation focuses on the initial hours of the fire, which trapped and overran 14 firefighters and two civilians in a steep, narrow canyon along the Chewuck River in the Okanogan National Forest. In addition to the fatalities, four other crew members and the two civilians were injured.

The investigation team, headed by Jim Furnish, Deputy Chief of the National Forest System, USDA Forest Service, has determined a number of initial findings which will aid in the team’s development of recommendations to improve wildland firefighting safety.

14 members of the 21-person fire crew were trapped after attempting to extinguish a spot fire adjacent to a road ahead of an uncontrolled fire. The other seven crew members were working as a separate squad in a nearby area. 14 shelters were deployed, one of them sheltering one fire crew member and the two civilians. Ten crew members and the two civilians survived. Six of them, including the two civilians, were injured.

Four members of the fire crew deployed shelters about 100 feet upslope from the road, another deployed at an unknown distance upslope from them. Remaining crew members and the two civilians deployed shelters on the road.

After the initial deployment some of the group relocated to the river. The civilians’ vehicle was destroyed by fire. The Forest Service vehicle sustained damage, but was driveable.

There was no significant wind or frontal weather event associated with the dramatic change in fire behavior. The prolonged drought, high temperatures and low humidity combined with the very dry forest fuels to create an explosive, high intensity fire. Other preliminary factual findings:

The initial crew assignment was reinforcement for completing containment lines and mop-up The fire increased to active behavior during the early afternoon of July 10

After realizing entrapment was imminent, the crew took position in a suitable deployment area The crew had adequate time to prepare and deploy shelters Preliminary autopsy reports show cause of death was inhalation of superheated air

Radio communication was not a contributing factor The fire was located in a steep canyon, with a variety of fuel conditions and fuel loadings (mixed conifer and riparian) The energy release component was approaching maximum levels for this time of year The investigation team began its work on July 12. The initial findings are based on investigations of the accident area and interviews with surviving fire crew members and others associated with the crew’s fire suppression activities on July 9 and 10, according to Furnish. Additional findings will be developed to fully understand the entrapment and shelter deployment.

The investigation team hopes to complete its interview and information-gathering phase later this week, with the analysis and assessment steps expected to result in a draft report and recommendations in early August.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- News Release Wenatchee and Okanogan National Forests 215 Melody Lane......Wenatchee, WA 98801.........509-662-4335

Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Thirty Mile Fire Fatality Report

The Thirty Mile Fire was first discovered during the evening of July 9. An unattended camp fire is the suspected cause. During the afternoon of July 11, 2001, high winds developed causing the Thirty Mile Fire in the Chewuch River Valley, north of Winthrop, WA to blow up and grow from approximately 5 acres to over 2500 acres within 2 ½ hours.

21 firefighters and 2 civilians were entrapped in a narrow canyon of the Chewuch River Valley. Fires shelters were deployed in an area surrounded by fire on all sides. Four firefighters were killed and another four firefighters and 2 civilians were injured. Most of the injured are either in satisfactory condition or have been treated and released with one exception. One firefighter was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA and is listed as serious and stable.

"This is a great tragedy and loss that is felt by all firefighters and agency employees everywhere," said Sonny J. O'Neal Forest Service Supervisor of the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests. "Firefighters are a family and any time a firefighter is killed, grief is felt by all."

A national investigation team will visit the site today to determine the cause of the tragedy and to look for lessons that can improve firefighter safety everywhere.

A national Type I incident management team is assembling today to assume responsibility for suppression of the Thirty Mile Fire.

Families of firefighters killed and injured have been notified. All firefighters entrapped were members of a combined crew from the Naches Ranger District and the Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth Ranger District of the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests.

Tom L. Craven, 30, Ellensburg, WA;

Karen L. Fitzpatrick, 18, Yakima, WA;

Devin A. Weaver, 21, Yakima, WA;

Jessica L. Johnson, 19, Yakima, WA.

Those injured are:

Jason W. Emhoff, 21, Yakima, WA, who was transported to Harborview Medical Center and is currently listed as serious and stable;

Thomas R. Taylor, 31, Leavenworth, WA, to be released from Brewster Hospital this morning;

Scott Sherzinger, 24, Selah, WA treated and released;

Rebecca Welch, 22, Naches, WA, treated and released.

Because of the remoteness of the entrapment site, and the need for an investigation, it will not be possible to recover the bodies until today.

Today, the Thirty Mile Fire is being monitored as a strategy is being developed for its suppression. The exact size will not be known until mapping is completed. The new incident management team will determine numbers of firefighters and types of equipment needed to suppress the fire.

7 posted on 06/26/2002 7:05:13 PM PDT by joyce11111
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To: snopercod
I se nothing in the articles I just posted about the denial of water from the river, because if they had dipped water out of that creek, the fish would die..:>(
8 posted on 06/26/2002 7:06:43 PM PDT by joyce11111
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To: dittomom; BOBTHENAILER; CedarDave; JohnHuang2
9 posted on 06/26/2002 7:12:01 PM PDT by joyce11111
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To: brityank
Have to go to bed...will look for more tommorrow on the 30 mile fire
10 posted on 06/26/2002 8:19:34 PM PDT by joyce11111
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To: joyce11111; snopercod; Grampa Dave
Thanks for the ping, I'm mad and sad all over again. Seems like every day we pay for leftist policies. 400,000 acres so far, and today we learn that God is unconstitutional. Wake up America!!!!
11 posted on 06/26/2002 8:36:56 PM PDT by BOBTHENAILER
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To: joyce11111
Yeah, I read the official whitewash version.

I wrote the Chairman of the House Resources Committee at that time to express my disgust. I'll post the letter and his response if I can find the darn thing on my hard disk.

12 posted on 06/27/2002 2:53:28 PM PDT by snopercod
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To: joyce11111
Thanks for posting this about these fallen firefighters.

They gave their all, and we thank them.

13 posted on 06/27/2002 2:59:01 PM PDT by DainBramage
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