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Incident Name:  Station Fire, a 160,557 acre fire
Date:  8/30/09, 1439 hrs
Personnel:  2 lives lost
Age:
Agency/Organization:  Los Angeles County Fire Department
Position: firefighters

Summary:

Fire Captain Tedmund Hall, age 47, Superintendent 16
Firefighter Specialist Arnie Quinones, age 34, Foreman Crew 16-3

Captain Hall and Firefighter Specialist Quinones were working at Los Angeles County Fire Department Mount Gleason Fire Camp 16 along with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmate firefighters. The Station Fire was ongoing in the area and there was a plan to defend in place if the fire threatened the camp. A planned firing operation was conducted on a slope below the camp. Firefighters at the camp were sheltered in the dining hall and firefighters were positioned for structure protection.

The fire behaved in a manner that was not predicted and attacked the camp. Flame fronts of over 200 feet reached the camp. Firefighters were ordered to abandon the dining hall, which caught fire, and move to vehicles. These vehicles were moved to an area of the camp where the fire had already passed. An accountability report revealed that Captain Hall and Firefighter Specialist Quinones were not accounted for. Captain Hall and Firefighter Specialist Quinones had been assigned as the firing team. Their vehicle was discovered approximately 800 feet off of the road in a ravine. Both were deceased. The autopsies of both firefighters listed the cause of death as multiple trauma.

Fire Captain Ted Hall Fire Captain Ted Hall
Firefighter Specialist Arnie Quinones Firefighter Specialist Arnie Quinones
Station Fire from space NASA 8/30/09 Station Fire from space NASA 8/30/09

 

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Maps

Accident Location:

Google Map sent in just after the rollover

Rollover Path & Camp 16 Rollover Path & Camp 16

Station Fire Google Earth Vacinity Map from Inciweb

Station Fire Location Map Station Fire Location Map

One of the Station Fire Infrared Images, Flown on 9/6/09 from Inciweb

Station Fire Infrared Map Station Fire Infrared Map

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • LA County Fire Department (8/30/09): Accident press Release (49 K pdf)
  • LA County Fire Department (8/31/09): Green Sheet (24 hour Briefing) (72 K pdf) or text (html)
  • LA County Fire Department (8/31/09) Press Release, their Bios: Ted Hall (104 K pdf) | Arnie Quinones (94 K pdf)
  • Extreme Plume Dominated Fire Behavior: Station Fire Time Lapse by Brandon Riza
  • "Film" of Station fire, showing fire behavior, link from Tim Stubbs
  • Los Angeles County Fire Department: Factual Report (12.7 MB pdf)

    Causal and Contributing Factors from the report

    • Causal Factors

      Causal Factors are any behavior, omission, or deficiency that if corrected, eliminated, or avoided, probably would have prevented the incident.

      1. The decision to protect Camp 16 and shelter in place and allow the firing operation was made at the Battalion Chief’s management level without contact with the Station IMT.
      2. The lack of contact with the Station Incident prevented Camp 16 leadership from knowing about predicted fire behavior and available resources.
      3. The firing operation on the Mt Gleason Road was not successful due to the extreme fire behavior which exceeded the prediction of the plan.
    • Contributing Factors

      Contributing Factors are any behavior, omission, or deficiency that sets the stage for an accident, or increases the severity of injuries.

      1. The organizational culture allows firefighters to accept a notably higher risk to protect structures on wildland fires. A sense of ownership may have also influenced the decision to defend the facility.
      2. The south winds aloft and prevailing up-canyon winds aligned with the topography of the North Fork of the Mill Creek drainage resulting in rapid fire progression toward Camp 16 and the firing team on the mid-slope road.
      3. The fire burned in rugged terrain and the burnover occurred in the upper end of a steep drainage with fuel loads at seasonal low fuel moisture levels.
      4. Resources assigned to Camp 16 were utilizing two different frequencies for tactical discussions and reports. Effective communication controls were not in effect prior to the incident.
      5. There was no lookout dedicated to the firing operation.
      6. The Station Fire IMT was either unaware of the threat to Camp 16 or understaffed to provide any assistance.
      7. The ninety-year period of no fires in the vicinity of Camp 16 provided no historic baseline for reference.
  • USFS: Forest Service Station Fire Lessons Learned Report (197 K pdf)

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

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Media Articles and Reports.

  • 2 Firefighters Killed in Crash amid SoCal wildfire

    8/30/09 | Onine Article no longer available

    Officials say two firefighters have been killed when their vehicle rolled off a mountainside as they battled a massive wildfire in northern Los Angeles County.

    Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant said at a news conference that the two men were amid intense fire near Mt. Gleason in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday afternoon when the vehicle crashed.

    A tearful Bryant said the men's families have been notified. He did not release their identities or give a cause for the crash.

    The fire has consumed 66 square miles, destroyed at least 18 structures and was threatening some 12,000 homes.

  • Names of two killed firefighters released

    08/31/2009 | Online Article

    Officials have identified the two firefighters who were killed Sunday in a vehicle crash while battling wildfires in Angeles National Forest.

    Arnaldo Quinones, 35, of Palmdale and Tedmund Hall, 47, of San Bernardino County were killed Sunday near Mount Gleason, said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Steve Zermeno.

    The two firefighters were riding in a fire truck about 2:30 p.m. near Camp 16, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Mike Brown said.

    Officials believe the truck may have veered off the side the road, and down an embankment.

    "This accident is tragic," said Los Angeles County Fire Department Deputy Chief Micheal Bryant. "It's a very difficult time for the Los Angeles County Fire Department."

    The families of both firefighters had been notified Sunday night.

  • Firefighters died in "selfless" effort to save others

    9/1/09 | Online article

  • $100,000 Reward in Wildfire Announced

    9/4/09 | AP no longer online

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever set a deadly wildfire north of Los Angeles. Schwarzenegger announced the reward Friday, a day after officials said forensic evidence at the fire's point of origin revealed that the wildfire -- among the largest in Southern California's history -- was intentionally set. Two firefighters died Sunday when their truck careened off a steep mountain road. Under state law, the governor may offer rewards up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person killing a firefighter in the line of duty.The fire has burned through 241 square miles of the Angeles National Forest. More than 70 homes have been destroyed.

  • Los Angeles Station Fire Was Arson

    9/4/09 | Online article

    The Los Angeles Station Fire, which has burned 144,000 acres in the Angeles National Forrest, was an act of arson. Fire investigators classified the massive Station Fire as an arson fire just days after the investigation got underway amid suspicion that the blaze was, in fact, the work of arson.

    Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said “Forensic examination has led this team effort to conclude … that the Station Fire was an act of arson."

    The Station Fire took the lives of two firefighters who died during a rescue effort after their vehicle plunged down a mountain. Since the Station Fire has been classified as an arson fire, the two firefighters deaths will now be investigated as homicides.

    The arson investigation got underway on Wednesday with the focus being on a road turnout along Angeles Crest Highway north of La Cañada Flintridge. Station Fire investigators used wire sifters to sift through ash under a 20 foot tall oak tree to see if the fire was set deliberately.

    The Station Fire arson investigation scene has been taped off what they believe to be the point of origin. The area is being treated as a crime scene as investigators continue to probe and search the area for further evidence of arson. Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mike McCormick said Wednesday "They are doing a finely detailed, serious, serious search and investigation. We lost two firefighters in this."

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

DATE: Saturday, September 12, 2009

TIME: 10:00am (Honor Guard and apparatus staging no later than 7:00am)

LOCATION: Dodger Stadium, 1000 Elysian Park Way, Los Angeles. Free parking will be provided.

UNIFORM: Class A or station uniform

The Station Fire: images, information and videos

  • Inciweb: The Station Fire
  • Variety of Videos of the Station Fire: You Tube
  • USFA Memorial Database: Tedmund "Ted" Hall | Arnie Quinones
  • Unpredictable Behavior Recalled at Calif. Wildfire

    3/2/2011 | Online Article

    Los Angeles County Firefighter Rob Morales was enjoying some time off with his family in August 2009 when a wildfire broke out not far from the Station 16 Camp -- his camp. At first he resisted the lure of going in, but in the end, as most firefighters would, he decided he wasn't going to miss the big one. He packed up, said goodbye to his family and headed to work. Morales shared his story with an audience at Firehouse World in San Diego on Tuesday morning, providing riveting details of the fire and sharing his feelings with... (Read the rest of Rob's account at the link.)

  • Nov 11, 2011, City of Palmdale, Arnie Quinones Park Dedication: Video from LA County Fire Dept
  • Arnie Quinones and his wife were expecting their daughter when he died; she turned out GREAT!

    Arnie Quinones Arnie Quinones

  • His daughter and wife at the Arnie Quinones Park dedication ceremony

    Arnie's wife and daughter Arnie's wife and daughter

  • Station Fire fallen firefighters to be honored in dedication ceremony

    Sept. 19, 2012 | Online Article

    LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- Two California firefighters who lost their lives in the Station Fire are set to be honored Wednesday at a ceremony to dedicate a freeway interchange in Lancaster... More at the link.

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Contributors to this article: Gerald Meehan, Larry Tucker, LAC; Mellie; Chief JP Harris, Rob Morales, Tim Stubbs (NMAirbear) and many others in the wlf.com community

 

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