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CDF/USFS Accident Investigation Report
(pages 1 - 92, .pdf file, 2.73 mb)

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Glen Allen Fire

Investigation Report Forward by Chief P. Michael Freeman

Incident Overview

Sequence of Events

Download 60-page Glen Allen report, 4.6 mb pdf

Lessons Learned from 1993 Entrapments

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DATE: August 20, 1993
LOCATION: Los Angeles County
Angeles National Forest


1. Incident Overview:

At 1511 hours on Friday, August 20, 1993, Ms. Catherine Ryker (Reichert) reported a car and brush fire across the street from 1886 Glenn Allen Lane in Altadena, California. Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatched Engines 11 and 66 to the scene and notified Battalion Chief 4. At 1516 hours, LAC Engine 11 requested a first alarm brush response and to have JPL set up helispot 82A. LAC Engine 11 was the first on the scene and reported approximately 2 acres of brush and a car on fire. At approximately the same time, the Angeles National Forest dispatched a full brush assignment consisting of 5 engines, a dozer, and a hotshot crew to the scene. Los Angeles County also responded a full brush assignment which consisted of 5 engines (including the two already sent), 4 hand crews, Helicopter 15 with Crew 2-2, and supporting overhead.

Upon arrival at the scene, Copter 15 circled the fire three times while Pilot Dunbar, Crew Supervisor Neville and Crew Leader Ruezga discussed the fire activity and a safe off-loading area for the crew. After agreement, Pilot Dunbar landed the copter in a safe area approximately 300 feet from the fire. Copter 15 contacted the LAC dispatch (TRO) and informed them that he was landing the crew and they acknowledged receipt of the message. After leaving the helicopter, Crew Supervisor Neville, Copter 15, and TRO 10 communicated on radio channel Blue 6. The plan was for Copter 15 to return with a load of water by the time Crew 2-2 reached the fire edge. By the time Crew 2-2 reached the fire, Copter 15 had in fact returned with a load of water.

In the time between the start of the incident and approximately 1600 hours, these forces fought the fire and nearly had it contained within a ten acre area. However, approximately 35 to 40 minutes after crew 2-2 off-loaded the fire became active along its west flank. During the next five to ten minutes the fire expanded to its eventual full size. At the commencement of this new activity both the Angeles National Forest and LAC ordered second alarms for this incident. During this period, Crew 2-2 operated essentially without radio contact with the rest of the forces on the fire except for Copter 15. The crew had advanced down the western side of the ridge that they were on and arrived at the Altadena Crest Trail. After a short break, some planning and assessment of alternatives, they decided to continue on down the hill cutting fire line along the advancing edge of the fire. Their strategy was direct attack (one foot in the black). This put them in the drainage that burned subsequent to the initial fire run. They left the trail and started to work downhill after posting a lookout at the point where they left the trail. This action occurred shortly after a 1607 hours request by the crew for water drops in the area below their position. The next contact with the crew occurred between 1614 and 1616 hours when the Crew Supervisor reported an entrapment and burnover incident.

Helicopter 15 immediately came to the support of the crew and tried to ascertain their position and the extent of injuries. He also commenced water drops to protect and cool the crew. Other crews immediately started moving in that direction to assist in rescue and medical evacuation. At 1654 hours after necessary dust abatement work was accomplished, paramedics were dropped in the rescue location and also commenced rescue and evacuation operations. The first victim was evacuated to Sherman Oaks Burn Center by Air Squad 9 at 1724 hours. At 1747 hours Los Angeles City Fire Department Copter 2 departed the incident enroute to Sherman Oaks with the second victim. At 1811 hours the third was transported to Verdugo Hills Hospital. The fourth and last victim was lowered to the bottom of the canyon and carried out to 1781 Skyview Drive at 2045 hours.

The Glen Allen Fire was declared under control at 2144 hours on August 20, 1993.

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