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Incident Name: Point Fire
Date:  07/28/95
Personnel: 2 lives lost
Age:  Varies
Agency/Organization:  Kuna Rural Fire Department, Kuna, ID
Position: Volunteer Firefighters

Summary: 

Bill Buttram, age 31
Josh Oliver, age 18

Late in the afternoon of July 28, 1995, thunderstorms began to move into southwestern Idaho from northern Nevada. The thunderstorms produced little or no moisture, and the lightning associated with them sparked dozens of wildfires. Bureau of Land Management’s Boise District and Kuna Fire Department Engines arrived at the Point Fire and began Initial Attack. Around 2000 hours Boise Dispatch informed crews that there was a Red Flag Warning in effect. For an unknown reason Kuna RFD Engine 620 left the main road the engines were working on down a 2 track trail into thick sagebrush. At approximately 2045 the the 1955 brush truck they were driving stalled and they were overrun by the fire. When crews were finally able to reach E 620, it was still on fire. Kuna RFD Engine 622 extinguished the flames and gained access to the vehicle. Kuna Command was notified that two fatalities had occurred.

KUNA Engine 620

Engine KUNA 620 Engine KUNA 620

 

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Point Fire Accident Investigation Report: From Colorado Firecamp (pdf file - 6.7 KB)
  • Point Fire Case Study included in What Was He Thinking?: Beyond Bias- to Decision Making and Judging, By Mike Johns
  • Point Fire Case Study: Engine Opertator, Instructor's Guide
  • Civil Case Ruling on IC's Decisions: Legal Analysis
  • Civil Case Ruling on BLM's Liability: Analysis
  • Ruling On Public Safety Officer Benefits: District Court Decision and Order
  • Excerpt from Protective Clothing for Wildland Fire Suppression ...

    Protective Clothing for Wildland Fire Suppression

    The article that this was transcribed from is no longer online -- was at tinhelmet.com under archives_files/mauney_wildland.pdf

    The following portion was apparently a MTDC review of deaths of firefighters (1985-1999) wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) not designed for wildland fire conditions.

    The following has info on firefighters that died... Ch 8 (pp 26-27) heart attack and heat stroke fatalities.

    "The following individual firefighter fatality information was obtained from NFPA, NIOSH, and OSHA investigation reports as well as personal interviews with department personnel."

    6.2 Mid-West and West Coast Fatalities

    (snip)

    Kuna, Idaho Firefighters William Buttram and Joshua Oliver died in their engine after being overrun by a grass fire in July of 1995. They were wearing structural firefighting gear and did not have fire shelters. A conclusion of the investigation was that the clothing worn by the victims was adequate for fighting structural fires, but was not ideal for wildland fire. Reports show that some firefighters have survived in similar circumstances when fire shelters were properly deployed outside vehicles.

    The Federal Bureau of Land Management's accident investigation recommends: Cooperating entities involved in wildland firefighting are encouraged to provide themselves with PPE that meets the NFPA standard 1977. Further, it is strongly recommended that each wildland firefighter be equipped with a fire shelter.

    The surviving family members filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act in US District Court. The result was:

    On the basis of evidence and legal argument, the Court finds that the BLM and the Kuna Rural Fire District both committed negligence that was the proximate cause of the deaths Buttram and Oliver. The Court finds that the Kuna RFD bears 65% of the responsibility and that the BLM bears 35% of the responsibility. In its findings, the Court found the Kuna Rural Fire District (RFD) failed to provide adequate equipment and proper training. The Kuna RFD was found liable for 65% of the damages of $2,497,749.

  • MTDC: 1993 - Components of Wildland Fire Personal Protective Equiipment (PPE)
  • Information and analysis included in the Firefighter Fatality Report for 1995 (297 K pdf)
  • Bill's and Josh's names, death date and brief bios are included in the USFA Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study, published April 2002 (2,888 K pdf)

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

 

 

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Media Articles and Reports.

Bill Buttram & Josh Oliver Bill Buttram & Josh Oliver

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

 

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