THE SLEEPING GIANT AWAKENS

Diary of a Forester/Firefighter
BY
Everett M. "Sonny" Stiger

Dedicated to the men and women of the fire services; Federal, State, County, City, Town and Volunteer. These firefighters put their lives on the line fighting Wildland Fires without hesitation even though politics and emotion may dictate Land Management over common sense.


Forest fire
Prescribed burn to improve range. Hedges mountain near Helena, Montana


May 31, 2012


“Do you think the next generation of land managers will be smart enough to properly manage the next generation of trees?”

Everett M. “Sonny” Stiger


“We all realize that fighting a forest fire is dangerous. …We must assure every precaution to guard the safety of those who take on this tough assignment. Human life must never knowingly or carelessly be subordinated to other values.”

Richard McArdle, Chief, US Forest Service, 1957


Forest fire




Acknowledgements

A SPECIAL THANKS TO:
My son-in-law Rocky Infanger, Chief of the Wolf Creek/Craig Fire Service Area, for his untiring efforts to protect those living, working, and playing in his jurisdiction and for his constant support and assistance with my Fire Behavior work.

My grandson, Justin Randall for carrying on the family tradition of fire and fuels management as a member of the Lewis and Clark Fire Use Module* and Senior Firefighter with the Lewis & Clark Inter Regional Fire Crew. Justin keeps me up to speed on new technology, tactics, and fire behavior.

My son and two daughters who put up with their father leaving for extended periods of time on fires and other emergencies, in the middle of the night, in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner, in the middle of opening Christmas packages, in the middle of various school programs, and in the middle of growing up.

My wife, Beverly, who has not only stood by me in support of my work, but has in fact literally stood beside me as we have worked together on many incidents.

The Lewis & Clark Rural Fire Council for allowing me to continue my Fire Behavior work in support of the County Fire Chiefs at an age when most people would be dead physically and/or mentally.

Denny DesRosier and Bob Braico for their literary expertise and honest critique of my rough attempt at writing.

Cheryl Bryant for sharing her computer skills.

To all those who read the first draft and gave me good feedback on the worth of continuing this project.

small pictures of forest fires



CONTENTS

PART ONE: The beginning (1959-1977)
PART TWO: The journey (1977-1994)
PART THREE: The ending? (1995-????)

Glossary Items marked * are explained in the glossary. There will be a bookmark the first time a term is used to go to the glossary and a bookmark to return.



small pictures of forest fires


PART ONE: THE BEGINNING.    (1959 – 1977)

CHAPTER ONE: The ranger

He didn’t even look up as I walked through the door. Just kept on typin’. It was the spring of 1959 and he had been the lone ranger on the Estes Park District of the U S Forest Service since about 1935, the year I was born. Without missing a beat on the old typewriter keys, he angrily crashed the carriage back for the next line and said “I told those Assholes I didn’t need any help and I meant it”.

I had just been recently notified by letter from the Supervisor’s Office that upon graduation from Colorado State University, I was to report to the Forest Service Office in Estes Park, Colorado as a full-time assistant to Eric, the Estes Park District Ranger. At the same time the other three Districts of the Roosevelt National Forest were welcoming their Assistant Rangers for the first time as well.

Eric was the kind of Ranger who was comfortable doing his own thing alone for days in the back country. There was only one way to do things and that was his way. The Forest Service Manual was a book small enough to carry in your hind pocket. I still have the copy given to me by Eric’s widow. Needless to say, management of the District was pretty much left up to the District Ranger.

Sometime around 1935, Eric had responded to a recruitment ad in a Chicago newspaper for a Forest Service Ranger position in Colorado. He rode the train from Chicago to Denver, took the exam, mostly how to survive in the back country, with a little surveying thrown in for good measure. He passed the exam handily and reported to the Regional Forester at the Denver Federal Building. The head forester pointed out the West facing window and said, “Your District is from that peak (Mount Evans) on the South to Longs Peak on the North”. The West boundary of Eric’s District was the Continental Divide and the East boundary was where the trees faded into the foothills and grasslands. Rocky Mountain National Park had the next chunk of land to the North on both sides of the Continental Divide.

He was issued a few tools of the trade including a side arm pistol and given a “good for one good horse and pack animal” government purchase order. A pack horse or mule, it didn’t matter. For some reason, Eric couldn’t remember, he thought he needed a set of dishes and silverware. The Regional Forester had forgotten to tell him that dishes and silver ware were already stocked at the Forest Service line cabins. And if it was too far between the cabins, he should use his back country skills and build another one! With this in mind, Eric bought a very practical set of dishes. Why, to the day he told me this story, he bought place settings for 12 people, he had no idea. Just chalk it up to the first day on the job jitters.

As time went on we eventually came to a stand-off and Eric befriended me kind of like a boy scout trying to get their ranger merit badge. I remember Eric telling me during one of those “pay attention Boy” sessions, that we run this District like it was our own ranch. “I don’t want to see you coming back to the station in the evening leaving a half-done job in the field.” I was told to take what I needed to stay at the job site ‘til the job was done.

In those days, Rangers built fence, marked timber sales, and tried their best to stop unlawful use of the range and timber theft. We didn’t have a lot of reports to complete, but one I remember well was the bi-weekly form indicating how many hours we worked on foot, horseback, or by vehicle, and how many days we spent in the office. Too many days in the office would generate a call from the Forest Supervisor wanting to know who was going to get the work done in the field while you’re sitting on your butt in the office.

While I was learning how to be a Forest Ranger from professors at Colorado State University, we, the students, were introduced to tree marking paint and paint guns. It would be much faster to mark out a timber sale by making a paint spot at breast high and on the stump rather than the old fashioned way using a marking axe. The marking axe was just that, a kind of hatchet on one side to blaze* a mark on the tree and its stump and US embossed on the other side to stamp US in the mark you had just blazed. I had no doubt that I could mark a timber sale out faster with the paint gun than any one could using the marking axe.

That is, until I tried to keep up with the old master himself. He could blaze and stamp a tree before I could pull the trigger on the paint gun. And, when I first asked him about using paint on the next sale, I got a look of complete disgust. “There ain’t nobody going to smear paint all over the trees on my district.” Well, over time as he watched my inept, and I am sure, comical attempts at marking trees with the axe, he finally gave in and let me use the paint gun. After all, the trees marked with paint were to be removed, and, all the other Districts were using this newfangled way of marking timber sales. Just progress I guess.

I learned more about life and forestry from Eric in those early years of my career, than I ever learned at the University. We were driving down the road to a job one day and the conversation turned to naming my first child. I said, “Eric what do you think of Thane as a name for a boy?” ”He responded without hesitation, “O, Thonny, that’s a thwell name”. Needless to say, we didn’t name him Thane!

Small circle of fire

The first big one

During the late summer of 1959, I was called to fill a Crew Boss* position on an Incident Management Team*. The team was being sent to a wildfire threatening the town of Deadwood, South Dakota. Fighting a forest fire was not new to me as I had been a part of a crew burning slash from timber sales as a summer employee while going to the University. One of those prescribed burns* took a turn for the worse, jumped the uphill fire line* and made a run for the ridge top. Thinking back now it was no big deal. There were no homes threatened. The nearest homes were many miles away. This occurred back in 1957 or ‘58 and the term Wildland/Urban Interface (WUI)* hadn’t been coined yet. This is the term used for where homes are built in forests, grass and brush lands. But, we had started this fire so we felt obligated to catch it fast and put it out. That meant bustin’ our butts in the smoke until we caught it. We didn’t think there was any alternative. We finally caught the fire and drug ourselves out into fresh air, but not before leaving our lunches on the mountain side. I swore I would never lose another prescribed fire and I can honestly say I never did, at least one on which I was personally responsible!

The Deadwood fire of 1959 was burning homes, motels and businesses on the outskirts of town and there was an urgency to get our team to the fire. We were loaded onto a chartered aircraft in Colorado and set off for South Dakota with refueling at Rapid City. After take off from Rapid City I noticed a liquid spilling out from a hole in the wing. I was seated over that wing so I had a better view than anyone else would have. And, even green as I was, I realized something didn’t look right.

Our Team Air Operations Officer* was sitting right in front of me, so I tapped him on the shoulder and said “what do you make of that?” Without answering he made it to the cabin in two jumps and ever so slowly we banked, holding that wing up in order to prevent spilling as little aviation fuel as possible. The ground crew had failed to put the gas cap back on after fueling! We made it back to Rapid City and on to the Deadwood fire without further incident. That was a close call but only the first of many to come.

Our incident command post* was set up at the Deadwood fairgrounds. The smoke was so thick you could cut it with a knife at midday. The wind was fierce and food in the chow line soon became covered with dust and grit. However, there was an alternative not known to all. It seems that the houses of ill repute were legal in Deadwood and protected by the local Sheriff. It didn’t take long for some of the overhead* to find that these houses were clean and free of dust and grit and their chili was delicious! However, when the interior of the town was threatened by the wildfire, the girls were the first evacuated, and when the threat no longer existed, the girls were the first back in town!!

We chased the fire for awhile, then the fire chased us for awhile, until we made our stand along a road on Two Bit Ridge. After we prepared the line, I had the crew tie surveyors' ribbon along the road, a trick I learned burning timber sale slash* in Colorado. With a strong wind blowing the fire toward us, it soon picked up the tails of the ribbon and set them straight out into our faces. As the main fire approached, the ribbons were caught in the calm between the prevailing wind and the wind being sucked into the mouth of the fire as it consumed oxygen, and the tails dangled lifelessly. Then with the roar of a tornado, the approaching fire sucked the dangling ribbons into itself and then, and only then, we torched the line and the fire ate itself to death as it consumed the fuel in its path and sucked our backfire* into its stomach and died---We were essentially done in Deadwood!

After several more assignments in Wyoming and South Dakota and in the Supervisor’s Office of the Roosevelt National Forest in Colorado, I was sent back to Estes Park in 1967, but this time as the District Ranger. Times had changed a bunch since 1959. The District personnel had grown to four permanent folks. The District had several times that many employees before it was combined with the Boulder District in 1974. I had also gained a lot of fire experience since 1959. I eventually worked my way up the fire suppression ladder until I reached the highest rung as a Type 1 Fire Boss*, Incident Commander* in today’s jargon. That prestigious title came to me back in the late 70’s.

In 1967 forest fires were rampaging across Montana and Idaho and our team from Colorado was dispatched to Montana to take over the management of a fire in the Cabinet Wilderness. I filled the Line Boss position by that time, today’s Operations Section Chief. Our Region, headquartered in Denver, had an old World War Two B-17 revamped to carry passengers, not like an airliner but more like a military operation.

Somewhere over Wyoming one engine coughed, sputtered, belched and quit. Our pilot feathered the prop and limped us safely back to the Jefferson County Airport in Colorado. It was now turning to night and Dispatch figured there was only one thing to do that would get us on to Missoula, Montana before daylight. That was to call out the Mosquito Fleet of small aircraft, load two, three or four into each one and haul ass to Missoula.

I wound up sitting next to the pilot with two more team members behind us. Again, somewhere over Wyoming things went haywire! The cabin filled with acrid smoke. The cabin lights and all instruments went dark and dead. The pilot tossed me a flash light and an aeronautical map and asked “Ever use one of these before?” referring to the map of course. The only thing familiar to me in an airplane was the flashlight!! I said “No”. He said, “Well, you’re going to learn!” By golly these aeronautical maps are alright. Every little town had an airport with a different beacon light pattern. Again, we made it safely to Missoula and made ready for our fire assignment.

After a long siege in the Cabinets with no shower bath, or rain, we were tagged the Dirty Dozen by the Supervisor at our debriefing. Fires were poppin’ hot and heavy all across the Region and showers had to wait. After a short R & R in Missoula, we were shipped to the Priest Lake Ranger Station in Idaho to take over the Cedar Zone of the Trapper Peak fire.

There were four Zones. The North Zone was managed by the Canadians, the East Zone managed by a Forest Service team, the South Zone managed by the State of Idaho, and our Zone on the West side called the Cedar Zone. This was obviously a major fire burning in both the United States and Canada. The fire wound up to be over 150,000 acres. Every afternoon when burning conditions were at their best, the fire would cross our lines and chase us off the mountain. On one particularly bad day we found ourselves on the verge of being cut off from our safety zone*. I had been assigned a little G3-B helicopter with an excellent pilot. We loaded up and made a fast recon of the situation. I found what looked like a good escape route* over an open, grassy ridge and down a trail to a major road and safety. There were three crews involved. Over 60 men. There were no women on the fire lines in those days.

With not many good places to land close to the crews, we settled on an old log deck; a cribbing of logs constructed to prepare a flat place to load logs from an old timber sale. I trotted over to the Sector Boss* and pointed out the quickest way to safety. Realizing he might not fully understand my directions, I gave the old John Wayne response “follow me”.

It didn’t take long to reach the open ridge between the fire and the escape route. Just as we started to cross the open ridge, I heard the unmistakable drone of a DC-3. “What the hell is he doin’ up here?” I thought. It turns out the State of Idaho management team had decided to put a spike camp* in on this open ridge. Obviously this decision was made before this ridge had been threatened by the fire. The DC-3 was perilously close to the tree tops coming right at us. Some one yelled “get down!” just as the planes' crew started kicking out pallets of supplies and cases of canned goods that exploded like shrapnel when they hit the ground. We thought we were in a damned war zone with bombing runs on one side and a damned crown fire* on the other.

If that wasn’t bad enough, just about the time we gathered ourselves up to make a run over the top, here came another DC-3 with the same objective. They must have thought that we were the State crew that was going to set up the camp. To make matters worse, my chopper pilot tapped me on the shoulder and said “We gotta go.” I was giving last minute instructions to the crews and said “Just a minute”. He said “We haven’t got a minute, we have to go now!”

By this time he had me by the arm and as I turned I could see his reason for leaving. The old punky log deck our ship was setting on had a curl of smoke coming from somewhere in its interior. The fire was throwing glowing embers at us and one had landed on our landing spot. We made it back into the air and watched as our crews safely crossed the ridge and proceeded down the escape route to safety.

It became obvious to us that we had to change our strategy or this fire was going to whip us. It had not only come close to trapping 60-plus firefighters, it had also put an Air Force Crew in the hospital when their large chopper lost hydraulics just after unloading a fire crew. I was at the landing site ready to brief the crews where I watched in horror as the chopper started spinning 360's and slammed into the mountain side. Fortunately they had just taken off and were not far above the ground. They didn’t have far to fall and we were close. We were able to get the pilot and crew out quickly and air lifted to the hospital.

It was getting into late August and a dry cold front common to this region was forecast to hit us in the next 24 hours or so. We had placed a knowledgeable Weather Observer in a lookout tower upwind from our zone to let us know when the front was getting close. In the meantime we constructed a wide dozer line* on the West side of the fire, a smart distance from the main fire.

Our Weather Observer gave us the word that the front had reached his location with a strong wind shift that put the wind at our backs. Again the old ribbon trick helped us time the ignition. When the frontal winds picked up the tails of our ribbons and pointed them straight at the main fire, we ignited. The burn out* was successful and for all practical purposes our zone was left to mop-up. However, the East Zone got the full force of the West wind and most of their line was lost as was their fire camp*.

Just to the South of our fire, the infamous Sundance fire was caught by the wind and running to the east, burned over and killed a dozer operator and his spotter. The heat from this crowning fire was so great it melted a steel bridge.

Picture of EM Stiger on the Trapper Peak fire
Photo courtesy of the Missoulian

In 1969 on the Tunnel fire in Colorado, a lead plane* pilot, while looking over his shoulder at the air tanker* he was leading in for a retardant drop, got a little close to the ground and wiped out about two acres of trees before he came to a stop, minus both wings. Again I was able to get to him quickly with the medical transport chopper. I could see we needed to work fast, as the smell of aviation fuel was strong and the pilot was unconscious. Any spark and we would become the next “in the line of duty” statistic.

But we worked carefully and fast and got him out and on his way to the local hospital. I got word later that he had been released from the hospital after a short stay and was back in the air leading the air tankers into their targets. What is it about these pilots anyway? They definitely march to a different drum.

In the early 60’s I was stationed in the Black Hills of South Dakota. One of my jobs was to flag for a sagebrush eradication project. I would measure by pacing the appropriate distance between spray lines and hold up a flag that the pilot could see so there would be good coverage with as little overlap as possible. The herbicide was applied by a small helicopter rigged for aerial spraying. Even though the pilot was careful to avoid spraying the flag man, I was covered with the herbicide over and over again due to unavoidable drift. At night it would take hours for me to scrub myself clean of that concoction.

Later, in the year 2008, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a degenerative neurological disease with no cure. There is some evidence that those of us living a rural lifestyle may be more subject to contracting this disease than our city counterparts. This may be due to exposure to toxins. The herbicide we used was mixed with diesel fuel for a carrier. I definitely was exposed to toxins! I never gave it much thought, just one more bout with aircraft.

I had been dispatched to the Battle fire on the Prescott National Forest in Arizona. It was 1972. I was assigned an old dilapidated Huey chopper. It was a private craft under contract to the Forest Service. They obviously didn’t inspect them much in those days. I remember the thing quivered and shook as the pilot cranked it up for takeoff and repeated the same gyrations as he shut it down upon landing. It was enough to make this old country boy a little apprehensive to say the least. Then, just as I feared it would, the damn thing shook and quivered and quit somewhere over the Mogollon Rim. We auto-rotated, kind of like putting it in neutral and letting the wind turn the blades as we plummeted, down into the sagebrush below the Rim and hit hard. I was sitting next to the pilot and he and I didn’t have a scratch, but the two firefighters sitting behind us didn’t fare as well. Both of them had various and sundry injuries that required an ambulance ride to town. As before, I heard via the fire grapevine, that the guy had the chopper repaired and was back on fire duty!?

small circle of fire
To read the rest of this exciting book, order a CD. Send check or money order of $10.00 plus $1.95 postage to:

To order a printed book, send check or money order of $25.00 plus $3.00 postage to:

Sonny Stiger
3675 Juniper Drive
Helena MT 59602

Contact the author at sleepinggiantawakens@gmail.com

GLOSSARY

Return

Air Operation Officer - Primarily responsible for planning and implementing the air operations on an incident. (Return)

Air Tanker - A fixed wing aircraft equipped to drop fire retardant and suppressants. (Return)

Anchor Point - An advantageous location, usually a barrier to fire spread, from which to start building a fire line. An anchor point is used to reduce the chance of firefighters being flanked by fire. (Return)

Backfire - A fire set along the inner edge of a fire line to consume the fuel in the path of a wildfire and/or change the direction of force of the fire’s convection column. (Return)

Blaze - A mark made with an axe on a tree trunk or tree bole that removes the bark down to live wood (the cambium layer). Used to mark the way as in “a blazed trail” or as in the early years of the Forest Service, used to mark trees to be cut in a timber sale. (Return)

Burn out - Setting fire inside a control line to widen it or consume fuel between the edge of the fire and the control line. (Return)

Convection column - The thermally-produced ascending column of gases, smoke, and debris produced by a fire. (Return)

Crew Boss - A person in supervisory charge of usually 16 to 21 firefighters and responsible for their performance, safety, and welfare. (Return)

Crown fire - A fire that advances from top-to-top of trees or shrubs more or less independently of the surface fire. Sometimes crown fires are classed as either running or dependent to distinguish the degree of independence from the surface fire. (Return)

Defensible/Survivable Space - An area either natural or manmade where material capable of causing a fire to spread has been treated, cleared, reduced, or changed to act as a barrier between an advancing wildland fire and the loss of life, property, or resources. (Return)

Drip Torch - Hand-held device for igniting fires by dripping flaming liquid fuel on the materials to be burned. (Return)

Dozer Line - Fire line constructed by the front blade of a dozer ( a tracked vehicle with a front-mounted blade used for exposing mineral soil). (Return)

Energy Release Component (ERC) - The computed total heat released per unit area (British thermal units per square foot) within the fire front at the head of a moving fire. (Return)

Entrapment - A situation where personnel are unexpectedly caught in a fire behavior-related, life-threatening position where planned escape routes or safety zones are absent, inadequate, or compromised. (Return)

Escape Route - A preplanned and understood route firefighters take to move to a safety zone or other low-risk area, such as an already burned, previously constructed safety area, a meadow that won’t burn, natural rocky area that is large enough to take refuge without being burned. (Return)

Extreme Fire Behavior - Implies a level of wildfire behavior characteristics that ordinarily precludes methods of direct control action. One or more of the following is usually involved: high rates of spread; prolific crowning and/or spotting; presence of fire whirls; a strong convection column. Predictability is difficult because such fires often exercise some degree of influence on their environment, behaving erratically and sometimes dangerously. (Return)

Fire Behavior Analyst (FBA) or (Specialist) - A person responsible to the Planning Section Chief for establishing a weather data collection system and for developing fire behavior predictions based on fire history, fuel, weather and topography. (Return)

Fire Boss - Prior to the Incident Command System the title for the person responsible for all incident activities, including the development and implementation of strategic decisions and for approving the ordering and releasing of resources. Currently known as the Incident Commander. (Return)

Fire Camp - A geographical site, within the general incident area, separate from the Incident Base, equipped and staffed to provide sleeping, food, water, and sanitary services to incident personnel. (Return)

Fire Danger - A general term used to express an assessment of fixed and variable factors such as fire risk, fuels, weather, and topography which influence whether fires will start, spread, and do damage; also the degree of control difficulty to be expected. (Return)

Fire line - A linear fire barrier that is scraped or dug to mineral soil. Sometimes referred to as “the line”. (Return)

Fire Use - The management of naturally ignited wildland fires to accomplish specific prestated resource management objectives in predefined geographic areas outlined in Fire Management Plans. (Return)

Fire Use Module - A team of skilled and mobile personnel dedicated primarily to prescribed fire management. (Return)

Fire Weather - Weather conditions that influence fire ignition, behavior and suppression. (Return)

Flame Height - The average maximum vertical extension of flames at the leading edge of the fire front. (Return)

Flame Length - The distance between the flame tip and the midpoint of the flame depth at the base of the flame (generally the ground surface); an indicator of fire intensity. (Return)

Fuel Bed - The surface fuel composition used to describe a “receptive fuel bed” for ease of embers to ignite spot fires. (Return)

Fuel Plot - A plot of ground usually randomly selected where the fuels are inventoried as to size, tons per acre, condition, and status of health. (Return)

Green/Dead - A term used to describe trees recently infested with the Mountain Pine Beetle that are still green but will eventually die and turn red. (See Red/Dead). (Return)

Hotshot Crew - A highly trained fire crew used mainly to build fire line by hand. (Return)

Incident Action Plan (IAP) - Contains objectives reflecting the overall incident strategy and specific tactical actions and supporting information for the next operational period. (Return)

Incident Command Post (ICP) - Location at which primary command functions are executed. The ICP may be co-located with the incident base or other incident facilities. (Return)

Incident Commander (IC) - The individual responsible for the management of all incident operations at the incident site. (Return)

Incident Management Team (IMT) - The incident commander and appropriate general or command staff personnel assigned to manage an incident. (Return)

Ladder Fuels - Fuels which provide vertical continuity between strata, thereby allowing fire to carry from surface fuels into the crowns of trees or shrubs with relative ease. They help initiate and assure the continuation of crowning. (Return)

Lead Plane - An aircraft used to make dry runs over the target area to check wind and smoke conditions and topography and to lead air tankers to targets and supervise their drops. (Return)

Logistics Chief - A member of the general staff responsible for providing facilities, services, and material in support of the incident. (Return)

Overhead - People assigned to supervisory positions, including incident commanders, command staff, general staff, directors, supervisors, and unit leaders. (Return)

Overstory - The stratum containing the crowns of the tallest vegetation present, (living or dead). (Return)

Prescribed burn (or fire) - Any fire ignited by management actions under certain, predetermined conditions to meet specific objectives related to hazardous fuels or habitat improvement. A written, approved prescribed fire plan must exist, and National Environmental Policy Act requirements must be met, prior to ignition. (Return)

Prescription - Measurable criteria that define conditions under which a prescribed fire may be ignited, guide selection of appropriate management responses, and indicate other required actions. Prescription criteria may include safety, economic, public health, environment, geographic, administration, social, or legal considerations. (Return)

Probability of Ignition - A rating of the probability that a firebrand (glowing or flaming) will cause a fire, providing it lands on receptive fuels. It is calculated from air temperature, fuel shading, and fuel moisture. (Precursor to an Ignition Component.) (Return)

Red/Dead - A term used to describe trees that have been killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle and still retain their red needles. (Return)

Safety Zone - An area cleared of flammable materials used for escape in the event the line is outflanked or in case a spot fire causes fuels outside the control line to render the line unsafe. (Return)

Sector Boss - A title for a supervisory position used in the large fire organization prior to the Incident Command System. Would be similar to a Division Group Supervisor in the ICS. (Return)

Slash - Debris left after logging, pruning, thinning, or brush cutting; also debris resulting from wind, or fire. It may include logs, chunks, bark, branches, stumps, or broken understory trees or brush. (Return)

Snag - A standing dead tree or part of a dead tree from which at least the smaller branches have fallen. (Return)

Spike Camp - Small fire camp located relatively close to the fire line primarily to shorten the distance crews have to travel to reach the fire. (Return)

Spot fire - Fire set outside the perimeter of the main fire by flying (or rolling) sparks or embers. (Return)

Spotting - Sparks or embers that are carried by convection columns and/or the wind and which start new fires beyond the zone of direct ignition by the main fire. Gravity can cause spotting by hot embers rolling down hill. (Return)

Stand Replacement Fire - Usually a crown fire in a lodgepole pine forest that kills all of the old growth, opens cones and allows for dense regeneration of young seedlings. (Return)

Surface Fire - A fire that burns surface litter, debris, and small vegetation. (Return)

Surface Fuels - All material lying on, or immediately above, the ground, including needles or leaves, duff, grass, small dead wood, downed logs, stumps, large limbs, low brush and reproduction. (Return)

Torching - Fire burning principally as a surface fire that intermittently ignites the crowns of trees or shrubs as it advances. When several trees torch at once can be called Group Torching. (Return)

Wilderness Fire Use Prescriptions - Measurable criteria that define conditions under which a prescribed fire may be ignited, guide selection of appropriate management responses, and indicate other required actions. Prescription criteria may include safety, economic, public health, environment, geographic, administration, social, or legal considerations. (Return)

Wildland/Urban Interface (WUI) - There are currently two accepted definitions.
1. The Urban Wildland Interface Community exists where humans and their development meet or intermix with wildland fuel.
2. The line, area, or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuel. (Return)