Point Fire, 1995
Island Fork Fire, 1999
Point Fire Case Study
Point Fire Accident Investigation
A. Point Fire Overview
D. Supporting Data
- Sequence of Events
- Organization Charts
- Site Investigation
- Fire Behavior Report
- Property Damage Report
- Witness Statements
- Outline of Kuna Wildland Training Provided by BLM
E. Records and Reports
- Preplanned Dispatch
- BLM Radio Transmission Log
- Ada County Dispatch Log
- Fire Incident Status Summary
- Escaped Fire Situation Analysis
- Wildland Fire Entrapment Report
- Technical Analysis of Personal Protective Equipment
- Vehicle Inspection
- Weather Reports
Island Fork Fire Accident Investigation
Point Fire — U.S. District Court Civil Case
Ruling on I.C.'s Decisions - Nov. 10, 1998
• Factual Background
• Legal Analysis
Ruling on BLM Liability - Feb. 19, 1999
• Legal Standards
Ruling on Public Safety Officer Benefits
Colorado Firecamp extends special thanks to Linda Perkins, BLM
Idaho State FOIA Coordinator, for her friendly assistance in gathering
the Point Fire documents. BLM FOIA Letter
FINDINGS OF FACT
AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO
DEANNA C. BUTTRAM, et al,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Civil Case No. 96-0324-S-BLW
Civil Case No. 96-0452-S-BLW
Civil Case No. 97-0129-S-BLW
Definition of BLM's Duty
The BLM, through IC Kerby, had a duty to exercise reasonable
care to protect Buttram and Oliver from foreseeable hazards incident
to fighting the Point Fire.
More specifically, the BLM had the following duties:
First, the BLM IC had a duty to ensure that Buttram
and Oliver were assigned duties commensurate with their ability and
with the Kuna RFD’s qualifications. This duty is imposed on
the BLM in part due to its own regulation found in § 9215.11E
of the BLM Manual on Fire Training and Qualifications. It is also
imposed on the basis that the BLM IC had supervisory authority over
Buttram and Oliver, and was in the best position to know of the fire's
extent and dangers. When the BLM is fighting a fire on BLM property,
the BLM IC has access to much more information about the fire than
the volunteer firemen supplied by rural fire districts with limited
budgets. On the other hand, the BLM IC will typically know little
about the qualifications of the volunteers. If the BLM IC assigns
tasks to volunteers with no consideration of whether the volunteers'
qualifications are sufficient to safely perform the tasks, then the
BLM IC has not complied with the general duty to provide for the safety
of those volunteers. Thus, the BLM IC must make some determination
about the volunteers' qualifications. At the same time, it must be
recognized that the BLM IC is forced by the emergency nature of firefighting
to make quick decisions. The BLM IC cannot be expected to conduct
a sit-down interview with each volunteer, but must be allowed to rely
on certain indicators of qualifications. In other words, the BLM IC
complies with this duty when he or she makes reasonable assumptions
about the qualifications of volunteers based on the appearance and
conduct of the volunteers, or other factors that bear on qualifications.
However, when the BLM IC makes reasonable assumptions about volunteers'
qualifications, rather than depending on actual knowledge, the BLM
IC is thereafter operating under a relatively higher duty to provide
for the safety of these volunteers. The level of duty varies on a
sliding scale depending on the BLM IC's knowledge. The duty is at
its highest when the BLM is making reasonable assumptions without
any actual knowledge, and lessens as the BLM IC makes appropriate
assignments based on actual knowledge of the qualifications. In the
present case, the BLM IC's duty to provide for Buttram's and Oliver's
safety was at the highest level because the BLM IC was proceeding
on reasonable assumptions about their qualifications without having
any actual knowledge.see footnote #4
Second the BLM IC has a duty to fully instruct rural
fire district volunteers, before fire suppression efforts begin, about
the nature of the fire, fuel conditions, weather information, safety
reminders, command structure, and radio use. This information is crucial
to provide for the volunteers’ safety, especially when the IC
is making assumptions about their qualifications without any actual
knowledge. The BLM IC is in the best position to provide such information.
In this case, IC Kerby had seen the fire from a helicopter, and could
describe the nature and extent of the fire. He had information that
the fuel conditions were incendiary. He had the most recent weather
information from the National Weather Service that included a fire
weather watch. He knew the common safety practices that should be
reviewed even by highly trained firefighters. Specifically the existence
of a fire weather watch made it imperative to review with the volunteers
the significance of a red flag warning, and how the high winds that
accompany such heavy weather would intensify the fire and obscure
visibility. Briefing about the command structure was important, because
the BLM IC knew he was working with volunteers from a rural fire district,
and so needed to reduce any chance of confusion as to who was in charge.
Finally, he knew the importance of everyone monitoring the same radio
channel during a wildland fire where the firefighters are spread out
over a large geographic area. IC Kerby had a duty to impart this information
to the Kuna RFD firefighters before they started their suppression
Third, the BLM IC had a duty to (1) ensure that all
firefighters heard the red flag warning that was issued at 8:22 p.m;
(2) ensure that Kuna RFD volunteers understood the significance of
that warning, i.e., that the high winds could dangerously intensify
the fire and substantially decrease the visibility; and (3) ensure
that the RFD volunteers knew that the high winds would be coming immediately
and from the south. The Government's own expert, Ronald Johnson, agreed
that the BLM IC had a duty to ensure that the firefighters got the
red flag warning. The two additional aspects of this duty (items (2)
and (3) listed above) arise in this case largely because the BLM IC
failed to hold a safety briefing before work began, and had no idea
if the Kuna RFD volunteers knew what a red flag warning was.
- Fourth, the BLM IC had a duty after the red flag warning was issued
to take all reasonable steps to ensure that 620 stayed away from the
Point Fire's northern perimeter. Because he failed to hold an initial
safety briefing, and knew nothing of Buttram's and Oliver's experience,
the BLM IC had a special duty to Buttram and Oliver to warn them to
stay away from the northern perimeter of the Point Fire because approaching
high winds would drive the fire in that direction.
BLM's Breach of Duty
BLM did not breach its duty to ensure that Buttram and
Oliver were assigned to duties commensurate with their qualifications
and the qualifications of the Kuna RFD. IC Kerby requested two brush
trucks and a tender from the Kuna RFD. Buttram and Oliver responded
to the fire in a brush truck. The brush truck is specifically designed
to work the fire line. IC Kerby reasonably assumed that two Kuna volunteers
driving a brush truck were qualified by Kuna RFD standards to work
the fire line in that brush truck. It was also reasonable for IC Kerby
to assume that the Kuna RFD had maintained 620 in a safe condition.
However, that was all IC Kerby could reasonably assume without further
inquiry. In other words, IC Kerby could not assume from Buttram's
and Oliver's appearance in the brush truck that they knew about (1)
the Point Fire's nature and extent; (2) the most recent weather report;
(3) fuel conditions; (4) safety guidelines; (5) who was in command;
(6) what radio channel was being used; (7) that a red flag warning
would mean the imminent approach of winds that would increase the
intensity of the fire and obscure visibility.
The BLM IC breached his duty to hold a briefing on the
issues listed in paragraph 107. IC Kerby held no briefing at all before
assigning Buttram and Oliver to the fire line. Because IC Kerby was
assuming that Buttram and Oliver were qualified without inquiring
into their training or asking any questions about their equipment,
it was especially important for IC Kerby to review all the issues
listed in paragraph 107 before suppression efforts began.
The BLM IC breached his duty to (1) ensure that all
firefighters heard the red flag warning that was issued at 8:22 p.m;
(2) ensure that RFD volunteers understood the significance of that
warning, i.e., that the high winds would dangerously intensify the
fire and substantially obscure visibility; and (3) ensure that the
RFD volunteers knew that the high winds would be coming immediately
and from the south. Given the lack of any initial safety briefing,
and the BLM IC's ignorance of the Kuna firefighters actual qualifications,
it was especially important to ensure not only that the Kuna RFD firefighters
heard the red flag warning but that they understood the significance
of the warning. The BLM IC failed to comply with this duty.
The BLM IC breached his duty to warn Buttram and Oliver
after the red flag warning to stay away from the fire's northern perimeter
because high winds would drive the fire in that direction. Instead
of so warning 620, the BLM IC instructed them to refill. He knew that
to refill, 620 would most likely drive toward the fence break at the
northeast corner of the fire. In other words, the BLM IC directed
620 toward the northern perimeter of the fire at a time when high
winds were forecast to drive the fire in that very direction. As the
Court discussed previously in paragraph 65, the black's function as
a safety zone is partly dependent on whether the firefighters are
moving through the black towards the unburned fuels that are in the
path of oncoming winds. The BLM contends that IC Kerby gave 620 "the
safe assignment of going to the road and staying there. " See
BLM's Post-Trial Brief at 11. The BLM asserts that "it does
not make sense that [Buttram] would drive wildly around if he could
not see at all." Id. From this, the BLM concludes there
is no proof that the "BLM proximately caused Buttram to drive
out of the safe zone and into harm's way." Id. The Court
disagrees. At the time IC Kerby gave his refill order, it was foreseeable
that the high winds could kick up the dust and ash in the black and
completely obscure Buttram's and Oliver's visibility. It was also
foreseeable that Buttram and Oliver would be very near the fire's
northern perimeter -- and moving toward that perimeter--at the time
the high winds were due to come through the area. Finally, it was
foreseeable that the lack of visibility could cause panic and disorientation
that would expose the firefighters to great risk because of their
close proximity to the dangerous northern perimeter of the fire. By
instructing 620 to refill, the BLM IC placed Buttram and Oliver in
a foreseeably dangerous position, and thereby breached his duty to
provide for their safety.
Definition of Kuna RFD's Duty
The Kuna RFD had a duty to exercise reasonable care
to protect Buttram and Oliver from foreseeable hazards incident to
fighting the Point Fire. This duty continued even after IC Kerby assigned
duties to Buttram and Oliver and the two volunteers began working
the fire line. While IC Kerby was the leader with primary responsibility,
the Kuna RFD had a continuing responsibility to monitor its firefighters,
warn them of dangers, and make recommendations to IC Kerby based on
Kuna RFD's superior knowledge of Buttram's and Oliver's lack of experience.
This duty arises because Captain McPherson sent 620, manned by two
men experiencing their first fire season, to the BLM for duty assignment
(1) without notifying the BLM IC that 620 was operated by rookies,
(2) knowing that the BLM IC would have no time himself to inquire
into Buttram's and Oliver's experience and training, and (2) knowing
virtually nothing about the extent of the fire and the weather forecast.
Under these circumstances, it was especially important that Chief
Cromwell and Captain McPherson monitor the suppression efforts and
the weather, so that they could suggest courses of action to IC Kerby
that would ensure the safety of Buttram and Oliver.
More specifically, the Kuna RFD had the following duties:
First, the Kuna RFD had a duty to provide within reasonable
limits the equipment necessary to ensure the firefighters' safety.
Specifically, the Kuna RFD had a duty to provide adequate radios to
its firefighters. Chief Cromwell knew that the Point Fire was a grass/wildland
fire, and that suppression efforts could spread his firefighters out
to the point where they would be out-of-sight of leadership. Adequate
radios were the only way that Chief Cromwell and Captain McPherson
could comply with their duty to monitor their firefighters during
the suppression efforts, as discussed above.
Second, the Kuna RFD had a duty to make personnel assignments
that were designed to ensure the firefighters' safety. Specifically,
the Kuna RFD had a duty to (1) send only qualified volunteer firefighters
to fight any fire, and (2) to pair firefighters in two-person trucks
in a manner that reasonably provided for the firefighters' safety.
Third, the Kuna RFD had a duty to obtain a weather report
from the National Weather Service before proceeding to fight the Point
Fire. Kuna RFD Assistant Chief Darwin Taylor testified that he believed
that the National Weather Service Reports were only available to federal
agencies, but he was mistaken--the unrebutted testimony of Richard
Ochoa, a staff meteorologist for the National Weather Service, established
that the National Weather Service reports would have been easily and
immediately available to the Kuna RFD on July 28, 1995. These reports
contained the most detailed weather information, and the testimony
at trial established that such information is absolutely crucial to
the safety of firefighters during wildland fires.
Fourth, the Kuna RFD had a duty to ensure that its firefighters
received a briefing either by Kuna RFD personnel or BLM personnel--before
suppression efforts began--about the nature of the fire, fuel conditions,
weather information, safety reminders, command structure, and radio
use. This duty arises in part because Chief Cromwell and Captain McPherson
knew that (1) the Point Fire was a wildland fire, (2) the Kuna RFD
firefighters had received very little formal training on wildland
fires, and (3) 620 was manned by two firefighters experiencing their
first fire season.
Fifth, the Kuna RFD had a duty to train its volunteer
firefighters to fight wildland fires in a safe and effective manner.
This duty arises because the main type of fire fought by the Kuna
RFD in the time period of the Point Fire was the grassland/wildland
type fire. This duty becomes particularly significant when the Kuna
RFD elects to assign their volunteer firefighters to work with other
agencies who will have no knowledge of the training that such firefighters
Breach of Kuna RFD's Duty
The Kuna RFD breached its continuing duty to ensure
the safety of Buttram and Oliver during their suppression efforts.
Chief Cromwell and Captain McPherson should have known that IC Kerby
was unaware that Buttram and Oliver were rookies. Yet Chief Cromwell
and Captain McPherson took no steps to inform IC Kerby of this fact.
That failure would not necessarily have been negligent if Chief Cromwell
and Captain McPherson had taken extra care to monitor Buttram and
Oliver, and monitor any dangerous fire or weather conditions. Both
Chief Cromwell and Captain McPherson recognized the importance of
this monitoring when they testified that if they had known that high
winds were approaching, they would have pulled 620 off the fire line.
Yet despite recognizing the importance of monitoring, neither man
monitored the BLM channel for warnings about dangerous conditions.
Thus, when the high wind warning was given over the BLM channel, neither
Chief Cromwell nor Captain McPherson heard the warning. Captain McPherson
had no capability to tune into the BLM channel; Chief Cromwell had
the capability but failed to do so. The end result was that both men
missed a crucial warning, and lost the opportunity to (1) recommend
to IC Kerby that he put 620 in a safe zone, and (2) talk to Buttram
and Oliver about the significance of the warning. These circumstances
constitute a breach of Kuna RFD's continuing duty to ensure the safety
of Buttram and Oliver during their fire suppression efforts.
The Kuna RFD breached its duty to pair firefighters
in two-person trucks in a manner that reasonably provided for the
firefighters safety. Allowing two rookies to pair up is not necessarily
a negligent decision if, for example, the rookies were operating a
water tender far from the fire line. But here the rookies were operating
a brush truck that was designed to work directly on the fire line.
Captain McPherson had an opportunity at the initial staging site to
switch Oliver and Black. That would have put a seasoned firefighter
with a rookie in each truck. In addition, Assistant Chief Darwin Taylor,
an experienced firefighter, was available to ride in 620, but was
not used in that capacity. Thus, the Kuna RFD was not faced with a
lack of resources that often, and understandably, plague small fire
protection units. The Kuna RFD already had the resources--that is,
experienced firefighters--but negligently failed to deploy them in
a way that would ensure the safety of Buttram and Oliver. This was
also not a situation where it was reasonable to assume that two rookies
could work together because the fire presented little danger. In fact,
Chief Cromwell knew almost nothing about the extent of the fire or
the weather. He also knew or should have known that Captain McPherson
would be unable to monitor the BLM channel .see
footnote #5 Under these circumstances, it was unreasonable for
the Kuna RFD to allow two rookies to operate 620. Thus, the Kuna RFD
breached its duty to pair firefighters in two-person trucks in a manner
that reasonably provided for the firefighters' safety.
The Kuna RFD breached its duty to obtain a weather report
from the National Weather Service before proceeding to fight the Point
Fire. The National Weather Service report was available but was not
obtained by anyone from Kuna RFD.
The Kuna RFD breached its duty to train its volunteer
firefighters to fight wildland fires in a safe and effective manner.
Despite the fact that the main type of fire fought by the Kuna RFD
was the grass/wildland fire, the Kuna RFD had only two training sessions
in fighting these types of fires.
Definition of Buttram's and Oliver's Duty
Buttram and Oliver had a duty to exercise reasonable
care to provide their own safety while fighting the Point Fire.
Buttram's and Oliver's Compliance With Their Duty
At the time the Point Fire Blew up at about 8:46 p.m.,
Buttram and Oliver were following directions. They were returning
to Swan Falls Road to refill as directed by IC Kerby. Their conduct
after the high winds started was a product of disorientation and panic
caused by the obscured visibility and fast-moving fire. At no time
did Buttram and Oliver negligently fail to exercise reasonable care
to provide for their own safety.
The BLM's negligence was a proximate cause of the deaths
of Buttram and Oliver.
The Kuna RFD's negligence was a proximate cause of the
deaths of Buttram and Oliver.
The negligence of the BLM and the Kuna RFD caused Buttram
and Oliver to be near the northern perimeter of the fire at the time
of the fire's blow-up. The fact that Buttram and Oliver were in this
location at the time of the high winds was a substantial factor in
The BLM's failure to hold an initial safety briefing,
failure to explain the significance of the red flag warning, failure
to warn 620 to stay away from the northern perimeter in combination
with its refill instruction that directed 620 toward the fire's northern
perimeter, were substantial factors in Buttram and Oliver being exposed
to an unreasonable risk of danger that led to their deaths.
The Kuna RFD's failure to (1) ensure safety of Buttram
and Oliver, (2) provide adequate equipment, (3) make safe personnel
assignments, (4) obtain a weather report, (5) properly train Buttram
and Oliver in wildland fire suppression safety, and (6) advise the
BLM IC of Buttram and Oliver's limited training and experience, were
substantial factors in Buttram and Oliver being exposed to an unreasonable
risk of danger that led to their deaths.
The BLM and the Kuna PFD were both responsible for the
deaths. Each had knowledge the other lacked.
The BLM knew a great deal about the fire but nothing
about the experience and knowledge of Buttram and Oliver.
The Kuna RFD knew a great deal about Buttram and Oliver
but nothing about the fire.
If either had shared its knowledge, this tragedy could
have been avoided.
Ultimately, the Kuna RFD was in the best position to
use its knowledge to ensure the safety of Buttram and Oliver. The
Kuna RFD's failure to do so was therefore the greatest contributing
factor to the deaths.
The Kuna RFD's decision to allow two rookies to operate
a brush truck was the key threshold decision that set in motion the
chain of events that would end in tragedy. By presenting the rookies
to the BLM in a brush truck, the Kuna RFD was essentially vouching
for their qualifications to work directly on the fireline--that is,
after all, the purpose of the brush truck. Thereafter, knowing that
the rookies would be in harm's way, the Kuna RFD never informed the
BLM of their rookie status, or took the special care necessary to
monitor their firefighting and the fire's condition. Of course, the
BLM was also negligent because it had a special duty to monitor as
well because it knew it had little knowledge of the Kuna RFD's qualifications,
and no actual knowledge of the training, qualifications, and experience
of the Kuna RFD firefighters assigned to the Point fire. The percentages
of responsibility might be allocated equally if the failure to monitor
was the only negligence. But the Kuna RFD's pairing decision and its
failure to advise the BLM IC of Buttram and Oliver's lack of training
and experience, places more of the responsibility on the Kuna RFD.
The Kuna RFD is therefore allocated 65% of the responsibility
of the deaths and the BLM is allocated 35%.
Plaintiffs Deanna Buttram and Jeremiah Buttram have
sustained economic damages in the amount of $961,092. They have sustained
damages for out-of-pocket funeral expenses in the amount of $6,074.85.
Jeremiah Buttram has sustained damages for loss of society and companionship
in the amount of $900,000 that must be reduced to the statutory cap
of $590,291.26. Deanna Buttram has sustained damages for loss of consortium,
society and companionship in the amount of $900,000 that must be reduced
to the statutory cap of $590,291.26. The total damages sustained by
Deanna Buttram and Jeremiah Buttram are $2,147,749.37.
Plaintiff Darla Reber has sustained damages for loss
of the society and companionship of her son in the amount of $300,000.
Plaintiff Michael Oliver has sustained damages for loss
of the society and companionship of his son in the amount of $50,000.
see footnote #7
With regard to plaintiffs Deanna Buttram and Jeremiah
Buttram, the BLM is liable in damages for 35 % of their total damages
of $2,147,749.37, or $751,712.28.
With regard to plaintiff Darla Reber, the BLM is liable
in damages for 35% of her total damages of $300,000, or $105,000.
With regard to plaintiff Michael Oliver, the BLM is
liable in damages for 35% of his total damages of $50,000, or $17,500.
The Court will issue a separate Judgement in accord
with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58.
Dated this 19th day of February, 1999
B. LYNN WINMILL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
footnote #4 With the
benefit of the trial evidence, the Court reaffirms its earlier
summary judgment decision that the BLM IC's assumption that
Buttram and Oliver were qualified to work the fire line in a brush
truck was not a policy decision protected by the discretionary
function exception. Based on the trial evidence, as set out in
paragraphs 106 and 110 above, the Court will clarify its reasoning.
In the summary judgment proceeding, the government argued that
the BLM IC was entitled to assume qualifications of volunteers
from the mere fact that they were dispatched by the rural fire
district. The Court rejected that contention and found that the
BLM IC was not entitled to make such assumptions under §
9215.11E. After hearing the trial evidence, the Court is now convinced
that § 9215. 11E does permit the BLM IC to make certain reasonable
assumptions based on outward indicators of the volunteers' qualifications.
However, the Court continues to reject the BLM’s contention
that the mere dispatch of volunteers by a rural fire district
to a BLM fire entitles the BLM IC to assume that the volunteers
are qualified to do anything. Section 9215.11E clearly puts the
responsibility on the BLM to either determine the volunteers'
qualifications or make reasonable assumptions from outward indicators.
The mere fact that volunteers were dispatched, standing by itself,
is not a sufficient outward indicator on which to make any reasonable
assumption. In this case, however, there was more than a mere
dispatch of volunteers. As the Court will discuss in paragraph
110 above, Buttram and Oliver arrived in a brush truck, a vehicle
designed to work directly on the fireline. The BLM IC therefore
made a reasonable assumption that Buttram and Oliver were qualified
to work the fire line. That decision was not a “legislative
[or] administrative decision grounded in social, economic, [or]
political policy” and hence was not protected by the discretionary
function exception. United States v. Gaubert, 499 U.S.
315, 323 (1991).
footnote #5 Chief Cromwell
testified that he knew--before sending his firefighters to the
Point Fire-that 625 had no BLM channel capability. He testified
that he was not concerned, however, because 620 and 622 had BLM
channel capability. But he should have known that Captain McPherson--his
choice to be IC for the Kuna firefighters--would have no capability
to monitor the BLM channel. While Captain McPherson rode to the
fire in 620, nobody contemplated that he would operate as Kuna
RFD IC in the cramped confines of 620, a truck designed for only
two men. It was much more foreseeable that Captain McPherson would
operate near tender 625, far from 620 and 622 working on the fire
footnote #6 The worth
of a life cannot be set with mathematical precision. If it is
our own life we are discussing, we would not give it up at any
price. William Bradford, in writing of those who died during the
crossing of the Mayflower, said that "the loss of honest
and industrious men's lives cannot be valued at any price."
Yet the law requires in this case that the Court, in determining
the loss of society and companionship suffered by the plaintiffs,
set a price on two men's lives, a nearly impossible task. With
regard to the Buttrams, the Court did not attempt to make any
distinction between the loss suffered by the wife and the loss
suffered by the son. The Court started from the premise that their
loss was clearly above the statutory cap and thus would eventually
be reduced to the cap level, no matter where the figure was set
initially. The Court then proceeded to approximate the loss of
society and companionship by equating it roughly to the economic
loss suffered by the family. With regard to Darla Reber, the Court
took into account the very close bonds between Darla and Joshua,
but also weighed in the balance the fact that Joshua was on his
own and no longer a minor child. The award to Michael Oliver is
explained in footnote 7.
footnote #7 The issue
of Michael Oliver's damages is a very difficult one for the Court.
On the one hand there is evidence that Michael was estranged from
his son. As discussed in the findings of fact, Michael went for
many years without contacting Joshua. Michael's lack of contact
appears to be the result of his own choice since he testified
that Darla did not make it difficult for him to contact Joshua.
On the other hand, Joshua did come to live with Michael for a
month in Illinois, and there were two other extended stays. In
addition, Michael was always current on his support payments.
On the whole, however, an award of damages to Michael that comes
anywhere near the award to Darla would ignore the plain fact that
Darla raised Joshua for half of his life without any help from
Michael, other than his financial assistance. In light of this,
the Court decided to award Michael a sum that was substantially
lower than that awarded to Darla Reber.