Incident Name: Bass River Fire
Date: 07/22/1977, bewteen 1600 and 1800 hrs
Personnel: 4 Lives Lost
Agency/Organization: Eagleswood Volunteer Fire Department
Harold "Skip" Cranmer, 32, Chief
Marcus Cullen, 28, Assistant Chief
John "Reds" Baker, 52, Fireman
Herbert Blackwell, 23, Fireman
A fire started in the Bass River State Forest around 1500 hours; this was in an area of Pine Barrens and had a history of large, fast moving wildfires. Nine units had responded with the Initial Attack and had disengaged the fire at 1545 hrs. A brush truck from the Eagleswood Fire Company with four men aboard was responding to the incident after being called at 1600 hrs. It is not clear why, but this unit mistakenly proceeded into the fire area. At 1800 hrs, a reconnaissance helicopter spotted the charred truck on a narrow, dirt road.
Fuels of the NJ Pine Barrens
1977 fatality location from the report: N39,37’, 16.8” by W74, 26’, 21.7”. East of Allen Rd. near the intersection of Oswego Rd.
LLC database has the location as (39.645131, -74.440627)
- Fire Behavior Case Studies and Analysis- 2003; Bass River Fire, pages 25-28: Fire Management Today (1.2 MB pdf)
- Bass River Gazette: Memorial rededication issue October 2006 (681 K pdf); Second part includes news articles and accounts.
- Bass River Fatality Fire Case Study, (10:49 min) Wildlandfire Lessons Learned Center YouTube, Published April 20, 2012
- Martin Alexander & Miguel Cruz, 2011: What are the Safety Implications of Crown Fires?
- US Social Security Death Index: Harold Cranmer | Marcus Cullen | Herbert Blackwell | John Baker
Fire Fighter Memorial at Bass River State Forest. Memorial location: N39, 40’, 06.3” by W74, 26’, 27.4”. Greenbush Rd. near the intersection of Stage Rd.;
The Bass River Memorial was originally dedicated on May 25, 1976 to commemorate the 40th Anniversary loss of 5 fire fighters (two State Fire Wardens and three Civilian Conservation Corps fire fighters) who were burned over while fighting a forest fire near the Town of Warren Grove in 1936.
On July 22, 1977 four Volunteer Fire Fighters from the Eagleswood Fire Company were killed when their engine was burned over on a fire several miles from this memorial. In 1982 a plaque remembering these fire fighters was added to the existing memorial.
Another memorial stone was placed by the fire company in front of the Bass River Forest Office.
Map from the NJFS
Contributors to this article: Bill Edwards, Section Forest Fire Warden, NJ Forest Fire Service, Mellie, Aaron Small
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