MapsReportsWLF LinksMedia ArticlesMultimediaComments

 

Incident Name:  Beaver Lake Fire, Twisp Ranger District, Okanogan National Forest
Date: Tuesday, 7/19/1960
Personnel: 2 lives lost
Age: 
Agency/Organization:  unknown operator but under contract with the USFS
Position:

Summary:

George E. Carey, 38, Pilot, of Wenatchee, WA
J.C. Brehm, 25, Co-pilot, of Bellvue, WA

Carey and Brehm lost their lives on Tuesday, July 19, 1960 -- when the converted B-25 "firefighting airplane" (airtanker) they were flying crashed about 10 miles east of Twisp. They were dropping on the the Beaver Lake Fire, a 400 acre fire near Twisp. One media report said they just released 800 pounds of borate retardant on the fire before impacting the mountain. Another eyewitness reported by the media did not describe the plane as having dropped its retardant before it started coming apart.

Print image of the memorial sculpture from the Methow Valley Memorial Dedication Brochure, 2007

Art from the Methow Valley Memorial Brochure, 2007 Art from the Methow Valley Memorial Brochure, 2007
 

Representative image of B-25 tanker | photo credit Don Felton

representative image of a B-25 tanker, photo credit Don Felton representative image of a B-25 tanker, photo credit Don Felton

B-25 tanker drop on evaluation in 1959 at Padua Hills, LA County, CA.

B-25 tanker drop on evaluation in 1959 at Padua Hills, LA County, CA B-25 tanker drop on evaluation in 1959 at Padua Hills, LA County, CA

Horizontal line

Maps

About 10 miles east of Twisp, WA

Return to top

Horizontal line

Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Firefighting airplanes were used extensively during the active 1960 fire season. There were four crashes in a cluster, making AP's and UPI's reporting of them incomplete and confusing. In the middle two weeks of July that year, there was one firefighting plane mentioned in news articles that crashed making a water drop in British Columbia, Canada around or just before the time the lightning strike fires began (7/19) in the US. I believe this was the first North American firefighting aviation fatality of 1960; it is unclear what kind of plane it was and who the pilot was.

    This quickly was followed by three B-25 crashes in the United States within three days of each other: Washington, 7/19, then several days later, Oregon and California on the same day, 7/22.

    How do we know this Washington B-25 incident occurred on July 19, when the article title below implies a different temporal sequence? These articles about the Washington incident below and articles about the other two B-25 crashes in Oregon and in California were published on or later than Friday, July 22. The day of the crash that killed Carey and Brem -- referred to as "Tuesday" in this article -- must have been Tuesday, July 19th, 1960, three days prior to widespread publication of any aviation deaths. Thus the Washington crash is the second of four that occurred in a very short time frame in different western locations, from Canada to California.

    When the media talks about "latest crash" below it must be referring to the latest crash they discovered when researching their article, making "Fourth Plane Crashes" the correct number even if not in the correct implied sequence.

    • Washington B-25 Incident, 7/19/1960 Washington B-25 Incident, 7/19/1960
      Washington B-25 Incident, 7/19/1960 Washington B-25 Incident, 7/19/1960
      WA B-25 Fatalities named: Carey & Brehm WA B-25 Fatalities named: Carey & Brehm
  • There is no NTSB Report. They only go back to 1961.
  • Probable Cause suggested later by aviators who discussed the B-25 and B-17 airtanker crashes:

    It took a while to figure out that apparently B-25s (and B-17s) were having a problem with low pressure effects on the tail caused by the "slug" of retardant being dumped out of the bomb bay all at once; retardant was 800 pounds, approx 1/3 the weight of plane, fuel and retardant

    Pilots had to push the aircraft's nose down prior to the drop, compensating for the low pressure area or pocket created by the mass of water/retardant as it fell away.

  • Forest Service Investigation provides suggestions of Probable Cause for the three B-25 crashes.
    • Three B-25 Incidents, 1960, Probable Cause Three B-25 Incidents, 1960, Probable Cause
    • In Spite of All Advances, Forest Fire Cost still Appalling in Terms of Money and Lives

      Sept. 11, 1960 Online Article (the rest of the article above)

  • US Forest Service Memorial List: J.C. Brehm | George E. Carey

Return to top
Horizontal line

Wildlandfire.com Links:

Theysaid: 9/14/06, raising money for the memorial

Return to top

Horizontal line

Media Articles and Reports

B-25 Incidents, incomplete, 1960 B-25 Incidents, incomplete, 1960
B-25 Incident, 1960 B-25 Incident, 1960

Return to top

Horizontal line

Photos, Videos, & Tributes

Rt 20 at Winthrop, WA

Return to top

Contributors to this article: Wildland Firefighter Foundation, Tom Leuschen and other Smokejumpers from the area and beyond, Tom Stein-Janney, Norm Silver, Mellie

WFF Boots & Wreath logo. Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation