The_Mann_Gulch_Disaster

The_Mann_Gulch_Disaster - The Mann Gulch Disaster The...

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1 The Mann Gulch Disaster The smokejumpers in the race (excluding foreman "Wag" Wagner Dodge and ranger Jim Harrison) were ages 17-28, unmarried, seven of them were forestry students, and 12 of them had seen military service. They were a highly select group and often described themselves as professional adventurers. A lightning storm passed over the Mann Gulch area at 4PM on August 4, 1949 and is believed to have set a small fire in a dead tree. The next day, August 5, 1949, the temperature was 97 degrees and the fire danger rating was 74 out of a possible 100, which means "explosive potential". When the fire was spotted by a forest ranger, the smokejumpers were dispatched to fight it. Sixteen of them flew out of Missoula, Montana at 2:30PM in a C-47 transport. Wind conditions that day were turbulent, and one smokejumper got sick on the airplane, didn't jump, returned to the base with the plane, and resigned from the smokejumpers as soon as he landed ("his repressions had caught up with him,"). The smokejumpers and their cargo were dropped on the south side of Mann Gulch at 4:10PM from 2000 feet rather than the normal 1200 feet, due to the turbulence. The parachute that was connected to their radio failed to open, and the radio was pulverized when it hit the ground. The crew met ranger Jim Harrison who had been fighting the fire alone for four hours, collected their supplies, and ate supper. About 5:10 they started to move along the south side of the gulch to surround the fire. Dodge and Harrison, however, having scouted ahead, were worried that the thick forest near which they had landed might be a "death trap". They told the second in command, William Hellman, to take the crew across to the north side of the gulch and march them toward the river along the side of the hill. While Hellman did this, Dodge and Harrison ate a quick meal. Dodge rejoined the crew at 5:40PM and took his position at the head of the line moving toward the river. He could see flames flapping back and forth on the south slope as he
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This note was uploaded on 09/05/2011 for the course ECO 103 taught by Professor Mary during the Spring '11 term at FH Joanneum.

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The_Mann_Gulch_Disaster - The Mann Gulch Disaster The...

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