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Incident Name:  Lodge Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation
Date: 6/23/1985, 1530 hours
Personnel: 2 lives lost
Age: 
Agency/Organization: Warm Springs Reservation
Position: 

Summary: 4 Lodge employees and 1 Lodge guest were burned; 2 people later died:

The Fallen:

Jerry Falcon, 24, died July 2, 1985
Jim Gaffney, 55, of Warm Springs died later

Survivors:

Ralph "Jim" Johnson, 44, of Warm Springs
Kenneth Tababoo, 36 of Warm Springs
Henry "Pat" Ritz, 41 of Lake Oswego, who was a guest

The Lodge Fire began at approximately 1505 hours (3:05 PM) PDT. The report's weather summary states that temperature was in the low 70s with relative humidity in the 20 % range. Skies were clear and winds variable, from less than 5 mph to 15 mph from the west.

Employees of the lodge and one guest opted to help try to fight the fire that was approaching the Lodge. Within a very few moments after they committed to fighting at the fire's head using wet towels and sheets due to no water in the pumper, the fire behavior became severe with high rate of spread and high intensity in flashy fuels (cheatgrass intermixed with medusahead ryegrass). The fire ran uphill, pushed by the light westerly wind and wind generated by the fire and topography. Five people on the hill and one on the Lodge driveway were burned over in less than half-an-hour -- by 1530 hours (3:30 PM).

Two lives were lost. Jerry Falcon was one of them. He was burned over 98% of his body. Jim Gaffney -- who had been burned over 70 % of his body -- and Ralph "Jim" Johnson were still in critical condition according to the July 2 news reports. Kenneth Tababoo and Henry "Pat" Ritz were in serious condition. A 1986 news article (below) revealed that Jim Gaffney also died from his injuries.

 

photo credit: History of the Kah-Nee-Ta Hot Springs

Warm Springs Kah-ne-ta Lodge 1972 Warm Springs Kah-ne-ta Lodge 1972

 

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Maps

Kah-nee-ta Lodge, 7 air miles NNE Warm Springs, OR

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Warm Springs Tribe: Warm Springs Kah-nee-ta Lodge Fire Review (2,221 K, 57 pages)

    Safety Aspects of Lodge Fire (from page 55):

    "The team spent considerable time reviewing and discussing the events that led to the injuries on the Lodge Fire. From the written statements, minutes from the Fire and Safety meeting at Kah-nee-ta, personnel interviews, etc, it is the opinion of the review team that the injuries were a result of an attempt by well-meaning individuals to protect the Lodge, the jobs of the Lodge, employees and possibly the lives of the other employees and visitors. We believe that the action was an individual effort and that no one individual directed another to take action. The observance of individuals taking action may have caused others to respond but this was voluntary response." (More from the pdf, page 55 -57 contains the summary.)

    Safety issues (pages 55-56 of the report):

    • No one was directed to take suppression action. Action was taken voluntarily. (Ab: A Study in Human Factors...)
    • Individuals ill-equipped for tasks
      • Lack of fire behavior knowledge
      • Lack of fire suppression experience
      • Improper or inadequate clothing
  • By 1994, changes in place indicated that lessons had been learned
Lessons Learned Lessons Learned

 

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

 

 

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Media Articles and Reports

  • History of the Kah-Nee-Ta Hot Springs Resort, Warm Springs Reservation
  • Jerry Falcon, 24, named as one of the fallen:

  • Jerry Falcon named as one of fallen Jerry Falcon named as one of fallen

     

  • Jim Gaffney, 55, named as the second fallen
Jim Gaffney named as second fallen Jim Gaffney named as second fallen

 

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

 

 

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Contributors to this article: 

 

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