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Incident Name: Midway Fire in Wasatch Mountain State Park
Date:   08/26/1990
Personnel: 2 Lives Lost
Age:
Agency/Organization:  Utah Lands & Forestry (Wasatch County)
Position: firefighters

Summary: 

Ralph M Broadhead, 64, Equipment Operator, Road Department
Blake V Wright, 38, Deputy Sheriff

A fire started adjacent to Wasatch Mountain State Park on August 26 near Midway, UT. Exact details of the entrapment are unknown, but NWCG reports that winds increased in speed and changed direction. The fire, burning in brush and timber with 50 foot flame lengths, was seen spotting into canyons. Hundreds of residents from subdivisions with limited ingress/egress were evacuated. "The fire was burning so fast you could not drive a car out fast enough to escape it." Dozer Operator Blake and Deputy Sheriff Broadhead were working on a firebreak to protect the wildland-urban interface community when the fire rolled over them. One shelter was deployed. News articles report Wright and Broadhead lost radio contact and were fatally burned. Their bodies were found later the next morning near the bulldozer they were using to clear the firebreak.

 

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Maps

west of Midway, UT, west of the Swiss Alpine area, Wasatch Mountain State Park

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Historical Wildland Firefighter Fatalities 1910-1996 (page 10): From NWCG (616 K pdf)(scroll down to 1990: "Waist State Park". Name of park is incorrect, as there is no Waist State Park in Utah.)
  • Ralph's and Blake's names and death date are included in the USFA Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study, published April 2002 (2,888 K pdf)
  • NWCG Safetygram from 1990
    Date: 8/26/90; Location: Utah State Park; Cause: Entrapment (2); Organization: State
  • Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright named as fallen Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright named as fallen
    Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright
    Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright
    Firefighters' situational awareness increases Firefighters' situational awareness increases
  • Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright
    Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

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Media Articles and Reports.

  • Members find strength amid forest fire tragedy: From LDS Church News 9/8/90
    "Two LDS firefighters, Wasatch County Deputy Sheriff Blake V. Wright, 38, and Ralph M. Broadhead, 64, a Wasatch County road crew worker, were killed in the blaze in a mountainside resort area as they fought to build a firebreak.

    Wright, the father of six children, was a member of the Heber 5th Ward. Broadhead, the father of five, was a member of the Heber 7th Ward. Both are in the Heber City Utah Stake.

    Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Council of the Twelve spoke at the funeral services for both men at the Heber City Utah Stake Center on Aug. 30.

  • Funerals

    Hundreds pay last respects to Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright Hundreds pay last respects to Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright

    Hundreds pay last respects to Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright Hundreds pay last respects to Ralph Broadhead & Blake Wright

  • Billion Graves: Ralph Broadhead, more information | Blake Wright, more information

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

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Contributors to this article: Mellie, S.R. Sparky, Joe Broadhead

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