Zone” newsletter, July, 2004
Lessons Learned —
author, date unknown
One-Year Anniversary Letter
by Kelly Close, FBAN
Declaration on Cramer
Redactions, by James Furnish, April, 2005
FSEEE v. USFS, FOIA
Civil Lawsuit Order,
Request to USFS, December, 2005
FOIA Appeal to USFS,
Management Evaluation Report
Investigation Team Information
Synopsis of the
Cramer Fire Accident Investigation
(facts 1 - 57)
(facts 58 - 201)
(facts 203 - 237)
Resources on the Fire
Cramer Fire Timeline
Fire Behavior and Weather
Equipment Found at H-2 and the Fatalities Site
Fire Policy, Directives, and Guides
OIG FOIA Response,
2nd FOIA Request to OIG,
2nd OIG FOIA Response,
August, 2006, (1.4 mb, Adobe .pdf file)
OSHA Cramer Fire Briefing Paper
• Summary and ToC
• Sections I-IV
• Sections V-VII
• Section VIII
OSHA South Canyon Fire
Letter to District
Ranger, June 19, 2003
OSHA Investigation Guidelines
OSHA News Release
• OSHA Citation 1
• OSHA Citation
OSHA FOIA Letter
Adobe PDF and Microsoft Word versions of documents related to
the Cramer Fire can be downloaded from the U.S.
Forest Service website.
Cramer Fire Fatalities
North Fork Ranger District
Salmon-Challis National Forest
Salmon, Idaho - July 22, 2003
Fact 203: At 1525, H-166 landed at the Cove Creek helibase
to refuel. At about the same time, lead plane 41 departed for McCall,
ID, and did not return to the fire (statements: 3, 29, and 37; record:
Fact 204: At 1530, Cramer air attack tried to contact
Allen. A minute later, Hackett asked [————] if
his crews were together and starting to head down to the Salmon River
road. [————] reply was negative — he was
still waiting for his crews to assemble. Hackett asked if everything was
still safe on that side and [————] replied that
everyone was fine (statement: 18; record: 8).
Fact 205: At 1534, H-193 with [————]
onboard departed the Cove Creek helibase to pick up Allen and Heath, but
was unable to find them because of smoke. [————]
reported that the fire had burned the slope below H-2 in the Cache Bar
drainage. Trees were torching just below H-2, but there was no crown fire.
Smoke was coming out of the Cramer Creek drainage and billowing over H-2,
but most of the fire below H-2 in that drainage was a surface fire. When
H-193 returned to the Cove Creek helibase [————]
formulated a plan for search and rescue (statements: 10, 13, 14, 37, and
41; record: 18).
Fact 206: At 1545, H-166 launched to attack the Stoddard
Fire, which had been reported by Long Tom Lookout at 1508 (statements:
3, 5, 13, 14, 20, 29, and 37: record: 18).
Fact 207: At 1550, [————] reported
to Hackett that he was at Indianola and asked Hackett if he wanted 133-KA
back on the Cramer Fire. When Hackett replied affirmative, he also noted
that he had two firefighters with whom he was out of contact. A minute
later, Hackett told dispatch that H-166 was leaving for the Stoddard Fire.
When asked if he needed the helicopter, Hackett replied that he had the
fire covered with H-193 and 133-KA and that anymore aircraft would be
a hazard (statements: 4 and 13; record: 8).
Fact 208: In a discussion with Hackett at 1557, Long
Tom Lookout noted that H- 193 was patrolling the ridge for Allen and Heath
and could not reach Allen and Heath on the air-to-ground frequency. At
1559, Hackett asked Long Tom Lookout if H-193 had made contact with Allen
and Heath, and H-193 via Long Tom Lookout responded that he was unable
to locate them. At 1600, Hackett notified CID that he had two firefighters
on H-2 and was unable to contact them for the last ½ hour. At the
same time, H-193 headed back to the Cove Creek helibase. At 1612, Hackett
notified CID that H-193 was flying near H-2, they had tried several times
to reach the firefighters, and it was smoky. He also reported that helispots
H-1 and H-2 had been burned over (statement: 37; record: 8).
Fact 209: 1600 weather: 84 °F, 19-percent relative
humidity (record: 9).
Fact 210: By 1609 the fire had reached the ridge between
the Cramer Creek and Long Tom Creek drainages (figure 8) (statement: 5).
Fact 211: When CID offered to send H-166 back to the
Cramer Fire, Hackett confirmed that he needed H-166 returned. H-166 was
sent from the Stoddard Fire to the Cove Creek helibase. At 1617, Hackett
asked H-166 to fly the West Ridge again and try to contact Allen on the
air-to-ground frequency. Hackett contacted CID and requested that [————]
and [————] come to the Cramer Fire (statements:
3 and 37; records: 8, 15, and 18).
Fact 212: At 1625, H-166 tried to locate Allen, Heath,
and H-2. At 1638, when H-166 asked Hackett for the direction of the safety
zone from H-2, Hackett said it was to the west in the old burn. H-166
responded that he was still unable to locate Allen and Heath, but then
immediately confirmed the site of H-2. The area around it was burned over
and some trees were torching. At 1642, H-166 reported to Hackett that
he was still unable to locate Allen and Heath and was returning to the
Cove Creek helibase. [————] reported at 1649 that
he had two crews at the Salmon River road and one crew walking down from
the fire. Hackett contacted CID at 1654, requesting to have Missoula Life
Flight on standby (statement: 37; record: 8).
Fact 213: At 1650, H-193 departed the Cove Creek helibase
to search for Allen and Heath (statement: 10; record: 18).
Fact 214: At 1727, a Type I incident management team
was ordered for the Cramer Fire (record: 22).
Fact 215: [————] reported at
1730 to the Cove Creek helibase that his crews were heading back. At the
same time, H-166 launched with two rappellers, [————]
and [————], to conduct a ground search for Allen
and Heath (statements: 4, 10, 13, 37, and 41; records: 8 and 18).
Fact 216: A short time later, Cramer air attack departed
the fire to refuel and returned at 1839 (records: 8, 15, and 18).
Fact 217: At 1749, Hackett officially turned the Cramer
Fire over to [————] (IC Type III) and briefed
Henson on the current situation (statement: 14; records: 8 and 15).
Fact 218: At 1755, [————] and
[————] rappelled approximately 75 to 150 yards
below H-2 to begin their search for Allen and Heath. After [————]
and [————] were on the ground and H-166 established
contact with them, the helicopter returned to the Cove Creek helibase
(statements: 3, 4, 13, 14, and 37; record: 18).
Fact 219: [————] walked up
the ridge to H-2 and found gear ready for transport — two chain
saws, two Indy gas packs, tools, and a few wedges (appendix d; statements:
4, 10, and 13; record: 21 ).
Fact 220: Allen and Heath had done a great deal of
work on the helispot. On the east side of H-2, they felled 15 to 17 -
ponderosa pines, some 24 inches DBH and larger, that were on a rocky ridge,
with "lots of lean" to them and rot inside. There were at least
as many smaller diameter trees, 6 to 8 inches DBH, that had been felled.
Approximately the same number and size of trees had been felled on the
west side of the ridge (statement: 32; record: 23).
Fact 221: At 1820, H-193 located the bodies of Allen
and Heath and guided [————] to the site. [————]
remained at H-2. H-193 then returned to the Cove Creek helibase to refuel
(statements: 3, 10, 13, 14, 30, and 41; record: 18). -
Fact 222: [————] found the
bodies of Jeff Allen and Shane Heath roughly 75 to 100 yards northwest
of H-2 up the ridge, away from their safety zones (figure 9) (statements:
3 and 14).
Fact 223: The site contained the remains of two fire
shelters, two fire line packs, personal items such as watches, cameras,
keys, and belt buckles, and work items such as carabiners, a radio, batteries,
and two flight helmets (appendix d; statements: 4 and 41; record 21) .
Fact 224: [————] joined [————]
and together they flagged the site. [————] called
[————] with a message for [————]
on what they found at the site. [————] was distraught
and asked to leave (statements: 3, 4, and 13).
Fact 225: [————] a Moyer helitack
crewmember, rappelled close to H-2 to spend the night with [————]
and provide moral support. It was also too dangerous too late in the day
for [————] to walk off the ridge. [————]
returned to H-2 to flag off the saws and other equipment. H-166 put an
external load of overnight gear into the H-2 area and returned to Moyer
(statements: 3, 4, 13, 20, and 37).
Fact 226: At 2020, Cramer air attack reported that
the fire had spread into the Long Tom Creek drainage (statement: 18).
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Fact 227: Around 0600, [————]
called dispatch to check on plans for the day (statement: 13).
Fact 228: [————] asked [————]
and [————] to locate a helispot for a medium helicopter.
[————] located a spot above H-2 on the ridge adjacent
to the fatality site and ordered two chain saws (statements: 4 and 13).
Fact 229: At 0912, H-166 launched to deliver the chain
saws (statements: 3, 20, and 25).
Fact 230: When the saws arrived, [————]
cut the landing spot for the medium helicopter (statement: 13).
Fact 231: Once the site was cut, 133-KA did bucket
drops for dust abatement. After assessing the new helispot, H-166 decided
to use an alternative site, referred to as H-4, due to safety considerations.
At that point, 133-KA was released and H-166 returned to the Cove Creek
helibase (statements: 13 and 32).
Fact 232: At approximately 1008, H-166 launched to
deliver [————], the Lemhi County sheriff, [————],
deputy sheriff, and [————], Forest Service employee,
to H-4. While enroute, [————] radioed to [————]
and [————] to meet him at H-4 for a flight back
to the helibase. After dropping off [————] H-166
returned to the helibase with the two rappellers (statements: 3, 4, 13,
20, 25, and 32).
Fact 233: When [————] and [————]
reached H-2, [————] briefed them about the fatality
site and a strategy for removing the bodies (statements: 13 and 32).
Fact 234: At 1258 [————] and
[————] walked to the fatality site, placed the
deceased in body bags, and carried them to the newly cleared helispot.
The bodies of Jeff Allen and Shane Heath were flown to the Cove Creek
helibase and transferred to a medium helicopter for transport into Salmon,
ID. [————] hiked to H-4 for a return flight to
the helibase (statements: 13, 20, 25, and 32).
Fact 235: At approximately 1500, [————]
secured the fatality site, and when finished, walked to H-4 and flew in
H-166 to Indianola (statements: 3 and 32).
Fact 236: At 1510, the bodies of Jeff Allen and Shane
Heath were flown on a medium helicopter from the Cove Creek helibase to
the Salmon airport (statement: 20).
Fact 237: At 1800, the Cramer Fire accident investigation
team arrived in Salmon.
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