The Rattlesnake Fire Staff Ride

The CalFire Firefighters of the April 11, 2018 Rattlesnake Fire Staff Ride were put in the shoes of the decision makers on a historical incident in order to learn for the future. They were challenged to orient, plan, and communicate among themselves as if they had been assigned to this incident that took the lives of 15 firefighters in July of 1953.

The Rattlesnake Fire was a wildfire started by an arsonist on July 9, 1953, in Grindstone Canyon on the Mendocino National Forest in northern California. The wildfire killed one Forest Service employee and 14 volunteer firefighters from the New Tribes Mission, and burned over 1,300 acres (530 ha) before it was controlled on July 11, 1953.The arsonist, Stanford Pattan, started two fires, one on private land and the other along Alder Springs Road inside the national forest boundary. He was later convicted and sentenced on two counts of arson.

CalFire’s Participation in the Rattlesnake Fire Staff Ride

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The first of the arsonist’s fires, set in California Division of Forestry protection area around 11 am, was quickly suppressed by CDF and the Forest Service at 10 acres. The second fire, started around 2 pm on USFS land, ran up to and along a ridge line, pushed by normal upslope and upcanyon winds from the east. It was reported mid-afternoon and by evening was considered under control. At about 9 pm, though, as detailed in John Maclean’s book Fire and Ashes, the wind caused a spot fire from a burning brand across the canyon from the main fire. The plan to bulldoze lines above this fire was not carried out as the terrain was too steep for the equipment. Then the wind died down and the spot fire became more-or-less inactive. With the evening weather conditions — a wind condition specific for the Coast Range of California, taken as being a bizarre and unusual weather phenomenon — the wind changed direction, increased dramatically, and poured down into the canyon from the west, igniting a fire than chased the firefighters on the canyon spotfire to their deaths.

360 Videos

The below 360 videos are location surveys of the Rattlesnake Fire of 1953 training site for California’s Firefighters. These 360 videos are for preliminary scouting and staging of a high quality 360 shooting session. The visual and technical quality you see here are not representative of our 360 capturing services.

360 videos will not be interactive on a mobile phone.  

Candid Photos of CalFire’s participation in The Rattlesnake Fire Staff Ride

Click on photo to activate slideshow or click on the bottom row of dots.