Five common denominators that contribute to accidents/incidents have been identified through studies of "tragedy fires."
It is important for firefighters to readily recognize the following common denominators so that future tragedies in wildfires can be prevented:
Most incidents happen on smaller fires or on isolated portions of larger fires.
Most fires are innocent in appearance before unexpected shifts in wind direction and/or speed results in flare-ups or extreme fire behavior. In some cases, tragedies occur in the mopup stage.
Flare-ups generally occur in deceptively light fuels, such as grass and light brush. Fires run uphill surprisingly fast in chimneys, saddles, gullies, and on steep slopes.
Some suppression tools, such as helicopters or airtankers, can adversely affect fire behavior.
The blasts of air from low-flying helicopters and airtankers have been known to cause flare-ups.
For more safety tips from the Federal Fire and Aviation Safety Team, visit its Six Minutes for Safety section at www.nifc.gov.
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