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Wildfire Tragedy on Storm King Mountain - The South Canyon Fire Explained


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The helispot crews were dispatched...
Wildfire Tragedy on Storm King Mountain - The South Canyon Fire Explained

Helispot Locations

The next morning, July 5, a seven person BLM/Forest Service crew hiked for 2½ hours to the fire, cleared a helicopter landing area called Helispot 1 (HS-1) and started building a fireline on its south and west side. During the day an air tanker dropped water based retardant on the fire without much effect.

Efforts to transport bucket water to the fire initially were not allowed because "drop water" collected in the nearby Colorado River was prohibited from crossing Interstate 70. There was a state regulation against flying full water buckets across major highways. It was considered dangerous to traffic. This prohibition was finally wavered but too late for the initial fire crews.

In the evening the BLM/USFS crew left the fire to repair their chainsaws. Shortly thereafter, eight smokejumpers parachuted to the fire and received instructions from their Incident Commander to continue constructing the fireline. The fire had crossed the original fireline, so they began a second fireline from Helispot 1 downhill on the east side of the ridge. After midnight they abandoned this work due to the darkness and the hazards of rolling rocks.

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