July 1, 2013

"It had to be a perfect storm in order for this to happen."

Said Prescott Fire Department spokesman Wade Ward, "Their situational awareness and their training was at such a high level that it's unimaginable that this has even happened."

23 comments:

Jason said...

If they really think something like that is "unimaginable," then it makes it more likely to occur.

One only plans for contingencies they can imagine.

edutcher said...

My brother-in-law used to fly small planes and, occasionally, choppers in support of firefighters, to the extent of having to ditch in the Snake River one time.

He was very explicit about how quickly things can go bad.

YoungHegelian said...

You know, I wrote up a couple of things, and then erased each one. It all fell short as will this.

I mean, this is just awful. It's like 9/11 when so many were taken from us in the course of doing their duty. For whatever help it may be, prayers for them & their families.

Lem said...

A couple of drones with heat monitors could have given them real awareness.

Too bad Obama cant spare any... don't have a drone to spare.

Capt. Schmoe said...

Most were just babies. Some following their fathers footsteps, others carving out a profession born of their own discovery and desires. Nineteen lives cut short, countless others ruined.

The fire service grieves, knowing that sometimes the perfect storm is created, sometimes shit just happens, sometimes small decisions turn out to be major ones.

There, but by the grace of god, go I.

David said...

“They were still so young they hadn't learned to count the odds and to sense they might owe the universe a tragedy.”
― Norman Maclean, Young Men and Fire

Skeptical Voter said...

It's not the first time things like this have happened--5, 10, 15, or more forest fire firefighters being caught in a "chimney" sort of terrain.

I blame global warming; I also blame George Bush --no, not really in either case. I do blame about 100 years of federal and state forest management practices. The idea was to put fires out immediately--and they mostly succeeded. The result was and is a tremendous build up of "fuel load" in most forests in the West. Now when a fire comes it burns hotter and harder than it would have done if proactive forest management techniques had not been applied.

Skookum John said...

The town is really hurting today. New York had 15,000 fire fighters and lost 340. Prescott had 60 or 70 and lost almost 20.

I haven't lived there for 30 years but I have connections to 3 of those who were killed, including the son of a former neighbor. Didn't know any of them personally, though.

Methadras said...

This is terrible. It's a lot to bear especially with those that have been in big fires and know people in firefighting. I have a lot of friends in firefighting. Many of them are my neighbors and I can imagine they are very shocked and hurt by this. Godspeed to those guys. RIP.

Skookum John said...

The town is really hurting today. New York had 15,000 fire fighters and lost 340. Prescott had 60 or 70 and lost almost 20.

I haven't lived there for 30 years but I have connections to 3 of those who were killed, including the son of a former neighbor. Didn't know any of them personally, though.

Methadras said...

Skeptical Voter said...

I blame global warming; I also blame George Bush --no, not really in either case. I do blame about 100 years of federal and state forest management practices. The idea was to put fires out immediately--and they mostly succeeded. The result was and is a tremendous build up of "fuel load" in most forests in the West. Now when a fire comes it burns hotter and harder than it would have done if proactive forest management techniques had not been applied.


Land management in heavily brushed and forested areas is a joke. You can't lift a single branch without running afoul of federal statutes. Never mind brush mitigation regs.

Fprawl said...

Some tree seeds out west have to be burned in order to germinate. My college bio class said so.
The area is built to burn periodically .
Why risk lives for houses.
People weren't in danger, they had run away.

Fprawl said...

Some tree seeds out west have to be burned in order to germinate. My college bio class said so.
The area is built to burn periodically .
Why risk lives for houses.
People weren't in danger, they had run away.

Browndog said...

I blame....nature. Shit happens, etc.

These young men were sent to their deaths carelessly and needlessly.

Somebody made that decision.

Phil 3:14 said...

These young men were sent to their deaths carelessly and needlessly.

Somebody made that decision.


Browndog, you really don't know what you're talking about.

Bob_R said...

As luck would have it (!) I just finished Taleb's The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable last night. I hope Wade is just trying to comfort people who are hurting badly and doesn't really believe those words. I would guess that's the case. Fire is an extreme environment, and people brave enough to fight it probably develop a realistic assessment of it's uncertainty and unpredictability. Taleb says that military people were some of the most receptive to his ideas. When lives are on the line people tend to abandon useless theories rather quickly. (When other people's money is on the line, they can cling to them line a leech (cf. e.g. macroeconomics, portfolio theory.)

My heart goes out to the families of those killed.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Enough to make a strong man weep.

More detail coming out now. Whatever emerges in the train of events - human decisions or low probability physical factors - study of this tragic loss will save lives of future firefighters.

These men deeply merit our homage.

Henry said...

@David -- I thought of Young Men and Fire as well. I just finished rereading it.

The Mann Gulch smokejumpers also were the elite. Yet almost 70 years later the mathematics of fire prediction elude us.

It's heartbreaking.

Jim said...

Bob_R when I read this Taleb was my first thought. You beat me to it and said it better than I would have.

Larry J said...

Help Wanted: Long, demanding hours for low pay and few benefits. Must be extremely physically fit and willing to look danger in the face. Possibility of dying a terrible death. Biggest payoff is the undying gratitude of the communities you help.

It takes a special kid of person to answer that call.

David Hampton said...

Despite the actions of this heroic crew the fire has now doubled in size with very little probability that it will be contained soon. Wildlife is impacted, humans are impacted, runoff will be a problem, and desert habitat will be set back decades. The ferocity of a fire has to be seen to be believed. The Perfect Storm" scenario is the likely reason this fire behaved the way it did. Heat rises, wind can cause a vortex, air moving down the mountainside above the fire will impact the flames by providing more oxygen, micro climates from the terrain can aggravate existing conditions and the firefighters roll the dice. Lack of oxygen or heat that exceeded the parameters of their protective bags they didn't have a chance in that scenario. GOD bless them and prayers to the family. They represent what is best in this country.

Joe said...

desert habitat will be set back decades.

Not possible. This was a natural fire and part of a natural process. It IS the ecosystem, thus nothing can be "set back".

You'd think we would have learned the lessons of Yellowstone, but no.

Nichevo said...

I look forward to hearing the ways in which Cedarford will piss on these men's graves. No, wrong word, I anticipate it happening. He believes firefighters are overpaid thrillseeking jerks who probably, all things considered, deserve what they got.