Wildland Fire Safety & Health Reporting Network

SAFENET Event Information
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Event Start Date:
10/25/2017 1700
Event Stop Date:
10/26/2017 0700 
Incident Name:
Coyote RX
Fire Number:
Local Unit:
Flagstaff RD
Incident Type:
Prescribed/Fuels Treatment
Incident Activity:
Stage of Incident:
Position Title:
Rx Burn Ignition 
Management Level:
Resources Involved:
Prescott Crew 2, E-462, E-483, E-486 RXB2 , FIRB #1, FIRB#2,  
Contributing Factors
Contributing Factors:
Fire Behavior, Communications, Environmental, Human Factors
Human Factors:
Leadership, Fatigue, Situational Awareness  
Other Factors:
Describe in detail what happened including the concern or potential issue, the environment (weather, terrain, fire behavior, etc), and the resulting health issue.
Ignition for the Coyote RX began at 1800 the evening of October 25th. Night ignitions were necessary due to the dry fuel conditions, fuel load and the fact that we were burning an MSO PAC for research and needed to minimize the fire behavior as much as possible for the current conditions. We had two burn groups working the north end of the proposed burn area; Firing group #1 on the East side and Firing Group #2 on the west side with the plan to bring fire from north to south within the containment lines and a series of drainages that separated the two burn groups. The fire behavior was very active and we had to adjust burn patterns and techniques a few times in order to lesson the severity within the block. We also had numerous spots across one of our holding features which slowed progress slightly. As progress was made from north to south Firing group #1 held up their burn to let firing group #2 tie into their fire before moving to another section of the burn area. Additionally a fenceline slowed down some of the interior burners close to the tie in point. As the rest of the burners progressed a horseshoe occurred in the middle that cut off the interior burners separating the burn group into two groups with the horseshoe in between. As progress was made toward Group #1 fire/tie in point 6 of the burners from Group#2 were cut off from their escape route and they were forced to walk through fire/heat to get out to the road and safety. Burners along the road had brought fire too close to the tie in point and before the burners could get to the road the lines of fire had grown together and created a barrier to the road. The time of this occurrence was around 0230 on the 26th. At this point all of Firing Group #2 was absorbed into the holding group and Firing Group #1 continued with ignitions for another 2 hours or so.
Immediate Action Taken
Reporting Individual : please describe actions you took to correct or mitigate the unsafe/unhealthful event.
I was informed of the event around 0430-0500 in the morning after ignitions were complete. Not much specific information was giving at the time but I was made aware of the issue. At the time sounded more like the gap was narrow- not a complete barrier. I asked more specific questions to those involved at the briefing the next evening at 1800 and it became apparent to me that we needed to conduct an AAR. Due to the timing of these events and the day/night shifts and time off needed the AAR was scheduled for Monday the 30th so that all parties involved would be able to attend (except for Prescott C-2). A thorough AAR and discussion occurred on Monday the 30th with a lot of discussion and venting. A few common themes/findings:

1. Night time burn- things aren't always as they appear at night (i.e. distance, fuel load, etc.) and most of the burners had not walked the unit during daylight hours. May have been a contributing factor.

2. Dry fuels/ heavy fuel load was conducive for active fire spread. Multiple comments were made about the gap left for burners to get out closed much faster that anticipated.

3. Communication- a lot of individuals said they thought about saying something but didn't. Example- moving too fast, the stagger of burners was off, too many burners, etc.

4. Condensed time frame due to ADEQ stating we would not have approval for the following night due to smoke in the Verde Valley from the day before- basically telling us to get it all done quickly.

5. FIRB acting as a burner instead of performing FIRB functions only- could have used him as a scout ahead of the burners to let them know distance/time frame to tie burns in safely.

6. Cumulative fatigue- very long fire season straight into RX burning.

7. Tunnel Vision/task focus- "just wanted to tie in and move to the next task"

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