How big was Dodge's escape fire?
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Martin E. Alexander
Publication Year: 2010

Cataloging Information

  • escape fire
  • Mann Gulch Fire
  • survival zone
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Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: March 27, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 10967


Several published accounts exist of how smokejumper foreman Wag Dodge survived the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire in northwestern Montana by setting an 'escape fire' in cured grass fuels, the most notable among them being Norman Maclean's 1992 book Young Men and Fire. Two other smokejumpers survived by reaching a rockslide. Sadly, 12 smokejumpers and a local fireguard perished in their attempt to try and outrun the rapidly spreading grass fire in steep terrain. In a recent paper (part of a project dealing with survival zones for wildland firefighters), Alexander and others (2009a) critically examined the question of how big an area was burned off before Dodge was overrun by the main advancing fire front. They also addressed the issue of how tall the flames of the advancing fire front were that initially met and ultimately swept around the area burned out by Dodge's escape fire.

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Link to this document (409 KB; pdf)
Alexander, M. E. 2010. How big was Dodge's escape fire?. Fire Management Today 70(3):24.