Incident Name: Mack Lake Prescribed Fire Escape
Date: 05/05/80, approximately 1245 hrs
Personnel: James Lee Swiderski
Agency/Organization: US Forest Service
Position: Tractor Operater
Summary: At 1030 on May 5, the Crane Lake prescribed burn was initiated to burn off logging slash; at around 1200 spot fires ocurred in the Jack Pine nearby, and quickly became established. Between 1215 and 1230 the fire crossed Highway 33 and became the Mack Lake wildfire. The fire exhibited long range spotting and vortices with a rapidly moving crown fire in the Jack Pine forest. Tractor Operater James Swiderski was caught by the fire on the North flank where he was constructing line. The area had experienced a 60% drop in relatively humidity around 1000 hrs; fire behavior diminshed when the humidity came back up around 1800 hrs, and was nearly contained over night.
Accident Site (approximate)
- Mack Lake Fire Behavior Report: Part 1 (7 MB pdf) | Part 2 (3.34 MB pdf)
- Mack Lake: Staff Ride
- Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center YouTube: Remembering James Lee Swiderski - Part 1 (22 minutes, 40 sec)
- Fire Behavior Case Studies and Analysis- 2003; Mack Lake Fire, pages 29-30: Fire Management Today (1.2 MB pdf)
- Martin Alexander & Miguel Cruz, 2011: What are the Safety Implications of Crown Fires?
- Mack Lake Fire Fatality Case Study, LLC You Tube, Published Apr 20, 2012 9:51 min
- Huron-Manistee NF: Lumberman's Memorial Room video
Contributors to this article:
Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation