In the moments before the flames swept over them, the firefighters thoughts turned to their training.
“Charlie frantically worked to light off the sage with his fusee (a flare used to ignite a backfire). “Hands shaking, the sage was lighting better than the grass had before. But it didn’t matter – there was no more time to burn – the fire was coming up fast on him and his crew from both the south and the east.”
The opening paragraph of the Montana DNRC’s Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) captures the critical moment when three firefighters were on the edge of existence. The flame-driven winds of the Bridger-Foothills Fire were blowing so hard that Charlie feared his helmet would blow off his head.
“Charlie turned around to his crew members and noticed that one of them, Sam, was already in his shelter. The spot fire that had cut off their last possible escape route was now well established on the slope below them, and the trees were crowning out with flame lengths of over 100 feet.