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Incident Name: Gorda-Rat Fire, Los Padres National Forest
Date: 9/3/1985
Personnel: W Philip Saaranzin
Age: 21
Agency/Organization: US Forest Service, Monterey CA
Position: firefighter

Summary: A "blue card" member of a Type 2 crew from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo -- Philip Saaranzin -- was killed during mop-up operations while rehabilitating a dozer line on Michael Ridge following the Rat Fire. From best recollections of firefighters, a stump rolled over Phillip after it was cut. The Rat Fire was ignited by lightning on July 6, 1985 and was probably contained within a week or two.

If anyone has the report relating to this LODD mentioned below, please let us know and send it in. (I'm sure the university and families were upset. The university-affiliated firefighting program was discontinued and apparently the report was not made public.)


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South of Big Sur, CA; the Rat Fire was named after Rat Creek, "mopping up Michael Ridge", presumably one of the ridges above the Rat Creek drainage.

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

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Media Articles and Reports

  • Budget Cuts Hampering Fire Crews, Experts Say

    July 14, 1985 | Online Article about the 1985 fire season

    In what already looks like one of the worst wildfire seasons ever, firefighters are complaining that Reagan Administration efforts to cut federal spending are seriously hampering their efforts to control dozens of major fires.

    "We are down 30% in all aspects of our fire-fighting capacity," said Jack Wilson, director of the Boise, Ida., Inter Agency Fire Center, whose staff is currently juggling resources, trying to help six federal and state agencies contain fires raging over 300,000 acres. (More at the link...)

  • Fire Management Notes, Volume 47, Number 1, pages 6-9 on Logistics relating to the fires of the 1985 season and other articles on technical advances in wildland firefighting. (1,657 K pdf)

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

National Fallen Firefighter Plaque 1985 National Fallen Firefighter Plaque 1985


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Contributors to this article: BEUBackcountry, Old LPF, Mellie; George Haines, Unit Chief (retired), CAL FIRE - BEU


and a few others


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