Mann Gulch fire: a race that couldn't be won
Document Type: Report
Author(s): Richard C. Rothermel
Publication Year: 1993

Cataloging Information

  • accidents
  • Butte Fire
  • firefighting
  • Mann Gulch Fire
  • smokejumpers
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: October 29, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 6167


The Mann Gulch fire, which over ran 16 firefighters in 1949, is analyzed to show its probable movement with respect to the crew. The firefighters were smokejumpers who had parachuted near the fire on August 5, 1949. While they were moving to a safer location, the fire blocked their route. Three survived, the foreman who ignited an escape fire into which he tried to move his crew, and two firefighters who found a route to safety. Considerable controversy has centered around the probably behavior of the fire and actions of the crew members and their foreman. Modern safety techniques used by 73 firefighters who escaped injury after being trapped on the Butte Fire in 1985 are described for comparison.

[This publication is referenced in the "Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers" (Werth et al 2011).]

Online Link(s):
Rothermel, Richard C. 1993. Mann Gulch fire: a race that couldn't be won. General Technical Report INT-GTR-299. Ogden, UT: USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 10 p.

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