This is a comprehensive review of the ThirtyMile Wildland Fire in 2001 that claimed the lives of four Federal Forest Service firefighters compiled from all the survivors, investigators, government officials, witnesses, and families affected by this incident. The Official Report of this fire laid blame on the firefighters themselves for the loss of there lives, and the report made was taylored to protect upper-level managers and the Forest Service from blame.
Mr. Maclean sorts through all of it and presents a clear picture of the events that transpired before, during, and after the incident where the time of the fire, the lack of resources, communication breakdowns, environmental rules, fatique, failure to follow fire safety rules, and tunnel vision lead to this tragedy. This book addresses questions that were not asked in the official report. It goes onto describe what happened to those in charge, and what did not happen to those administrators involved.
As a result of this fire, along with the 1994 Storm King Fire that killed 14 federal wildland firefighters, this book describes how through legislation the investigation responsibilities for large incidents shifted from in-house Forest Service to unprepared and unqualified outside government investigators. As a result of this political shift an overzealous US Attorney leveled four charges of manslaughter and five charges of lying to investigators about what happened at the fire, almost five years after the incident happened.
Mr. Maclean also chronicles the almost absolute abandonment of the firefightes and survivors involved in this incident, the heartless measures the Forest Service showed to families involved, and the failure of the wildland fire system involving the US Forest Service.
This book is important to all firefighters because the potential exists now for Fire Incident Commanders to be criminally charged if an injury or fatality occurs on a wildland fire incident, and what it may lead to in the future. Anyone involved in wildland / forest firefighting should read this book and learn from it.