Excerpts from South Canyon Fire Accident InvestigationTeam report


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, How the West's asbestos fires were turned into tinderboxes.

"The fire spotted on the west side directly below the line at the bottom of the drainage. The spot grew quickly and I could see hardhats above it. The spot moved fast. I did not feel a perceptible change in winds. I could tell that they were moving as fast as they could. At that time the lead guy and the group were 75 yards away. We were yelling at them to go faster. They looked tired and were not going fast. Thrash was in the lead and Mackey was second to the last. They were in a close group. At this time I asked Haugh to pull out my camera. I took a picture. I saw them through the viewfinder with fire everywhere behind them. As I took the picture Haugh grabbed me and turned me around. I took one more look back and saw a wall of fire coming up hill. I ran for the top and made it over the top of the hill. I got off the back side. I heard them yell a few times. Then it was quiet except for the fire."

- Smokejumper Kevin Erickson, in Report of the South Canyon Fire Accident Investigation Team