9 Jul 2009, 10:44am
by admin

Backbone Fire

Location: Trinity Alps Wilderness, Six Rivers NF, Trinity and Humboldt Cos., CA
Specific Location: Devils Backbone, New River headwaters, Mill Creek headwaters, within the 1999 Megram Burn, Lat 41° 2´ 24″, Lon 123° 27´ 49″

Date of Origin: 07/01/2024
Cause: Lightning

Situation as of 07/23/2009 6:00 am
Personnel: 245
Size: 6,324 acres
Percent Contained: 90%

Costs to Date: $16,585,120

NIMO has worked with local forests to build a T3 organization, this organization will take over the management of the Backbone Fire at 0600hrs today. The incident is releasing excess resources in alignment with cost efficient strategies and resource needs of other incidents. The accident investigation team has arrived in Willow Creek, they are working with those involved. SRF acres - 1781 Backbone and 2 Redspot, SHF acres - 3414 Backbone and 1120 Red Spot, and KNF acres - 7 Redspot. Totals: Backbone 5195 acres, Redspot 1129 acres.

Minimal fire behavior was observed, mainly pockets of heavy fuels well with in containment lines.


Situation as of 07/21/2009 6:00 am
Personnel: 458
Size: 6,324 acres
Percent Contained: 80%

Costs to Date: $15,639,466

Rappeler Fatality 07/21/2009

Fatal Accident During Routine Training At the Backbone Helibase Update

WILLOW CREEK, Calif. – Thomas Marovich, 20, of Hayward California incurred fatal injuries while performing routine rappel proficiency skill training, at the Backbone Helibase in Willow Creek.

Marovich was a second year apprentice with the Forest Service at the Modoc National Forest, and was working with the Chester Helitack Crew from the Lassen National Forest which was assigned to the Backbone Fire at the time of the accident.

At 10:10 this morning Marovich fell and incurred fatal injuries while performing the required training which is conducted at a minimum every 14 days to insure the crew’s skill and proficiency.

Mr. Marovich was provided advance life support treatment immediately at the scene. The Base medical staff, the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office, and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office were also involved in the response.

The Forest Service has mobilized an accident investigation team and is working with the National Transportation Safety Board


Situation as of 07/20/2009 10:00 pm
Personnel: 514
Size: 6,324 acres
Percent Contained: 80%

Swartzlander’s T2 Incident Management Team was released at 0600 hrs this morning.

The National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) will build a T3 organization over the next few operational periods to meet Forest objectives for turn back. SRF acres - 1781 Backbone and 2 Red Spot. SHF acres - 3414 Backbone and 1120 Red Spot. KNF acres = 7 Red Spot. Backbone total 5195 and Red Spot 1129.


Situation as of 07/19/2009 6:00 pm
Personnel: 738
Size: 6,324 acres
Percent Contained: 65%


Situation as of 07/19/2009 8:00 am
Personnel: 828
Size: 6,324 acres
Percent Contained: 60%

Estimated Containment Date: July 24th, 2009

Transitioning Swartzlander’s T2 Team with T3 team today. Working towards release of excess resources.


Situation as of 07/17/2009 6:00 pm
Personnel: 994
Size: 6,306 acres
Percent Contained: 45%

An accident occurred today involving an S-61 helicopter. The aircraft was extensively damaged. Both personnel walked away from the scene and were transported to a medical facility for examination.

The Sikorsky helicopter was working at a heliwell which is located N of the fire’s edge on the Klamath NF. The aircraft was flipped on its side which resulted in a small fuel spill, but there was no fire. Sikorsky-61, is owned by a private company under contract to the US Forest Service. An investigation team has been ordered.

Improving and securing handline on both fires. On the N end of the Backbone Fire good progress has been made. Six Rivers NF acres = 1781 Backbone and 2 Red Spot. Shasta-Trinity NF acres = 3396 Backbone and 1120 Red Spot. Klamath NF acres = 7 Red Spot. Backbone total 5177 and Red Spot 1129. Revised acreage due to updated gps data.


Situation as of 07/16/2009 7:00 am
Personnel: 1,075
Size: 6,343 acres
Percent Contained: 45%

Minimal fire growth. Because of the success of the direct attack, the Estimated Containment Date has been changed from August 30th to July 24th, a reduction of 5+ weeks, representing a savings in suppression costs of $35 to $40 million.


Situation as of 07/16/2009 7:00 am
Personnel: 1,223
Size: 6,341 acres
Percent Contained: 40%

All perimeter lines on the Backbone and the Red Spot are completed and holding. Spot fires from the Red Spot are contained and holding. The spot fires on the Klamath NF amount to about eleven (11) acres total. Mop-up on the Backbone is started and crews are using portable pumps to strengthen fire lines.

To date, the direct attack action has not caused any serious accidents or injuries; only a few minor scrapes and bruises.


Situation as of 07/15/2009 10:30 am, update 6:00 pm
Personnel: 1,195
Size: 6,314 acres
Percent Contained: 35%

Costs to Date: $10,719,000

Red Spot Fire is in the mop-up stages with crews reinforcing fire lines and using portable pumps in their efforts.

The main fire is still active in the SW corner and along sections of the W line. W side of fire is in the Tish Tang a Tang and Horse Linto Creek drainages. Crews are engaged in direct attack. Portable pumps will be used today to cool down hot spots. Roll-outs in this steep terrain continue to cause a spotting problem.

Backbone total 5150 acres and Red Spot 1164 acres (contained).

Increased activity and spotting in Sixmile Creek and Soldier Creek drainages. Activity was moderate on Red Spot. Overall fire growth is minimal.


Situation as of 07/14/2009 11:00 am
Personnel: 1,198 (not updated)
Size: 6,156 acres (not updated)
Percent Contained: 25% (not updated)

Costs to Date: $7,752,000

Red Spot Fire is lined and holding at ~1,150 acres. Priority for air support is SW corner of the main fire. Remainder of the fire is doing well with much of the line work completed and holding.


Situation as of 07/13/2009 9:00 pm
Personnel: 1,198
Size: 6,156 acres
Percent Contained: 25%

Costs to Date: $6.64 million

Today Mr. George Custer, Incident Commander for the NIMO Team, met with concerned citizens and Trinity Co. officials, including resident expert foresters [here] who have been deeply involved in forest and fire advocacy since the megafires of last summer.

Due in part to their sage counsel, the IC has determined that direct attack on the main fire and the Red Spot Fire should be implemented. If successful, those efforts will hopefully contain and control the fire in 14 days or sooner.

That will reduce predicted fire size by 25,000 acres or more, move up the expected containment date by 4 to 6 weeks, save tens of $millions in suppression costs, and save hundreds of $millions in losses and damages to resources, public health and safety, and the regional economy.

Kudos to Mr. Custer, Regional Forester Randy Moore, and to the Concerned Citizens for Responsible Fire Management of Trinity Co.


Situation as of 07/12/2023 6:30 pm
Personnel: 1,165
Size: 6,113 acres
Percent Contained: 25%

Costs to Date: estimated to be $5.2 million

Moderate fire growth today. Red Spot fire burned up to containment lines in several places, with some short range spotting. The Red Spot fire is established in the Eightmile drainage with active consumption of the heavy fuels.

Six Rivers NF acres = 1691 Backbone and 9 Red Spot. Shasta-Trinity NF acres = 3289 Backbone and 1113 Red Spot. Klamath NF acres = 11 Red Spot. Backbone total 4980 and Red Spot total 1133. Updated IR used.


Situation as of 07/11/2023 8:00 pm
Personnel: 1,064
Size: 5,890 acres
Percent Contained: 25%

Costs to Date: estimated to be $4.2 million

Control strategy is largely the construction of indirect line, an estimated 17 miles to the east and north along Slide Creek to the Salmon Ridge. The area partially encompassed exceeds 140,000 acres.


Situation as of 07/10/2023 6:45 pm
Personnel: 793
Size: 5,549 acres
Percent Contained: 25%

Estimated Containment Date: August 30th, 2009

The announcement today of the Estimated Containment Date indicates that this fire will be a project fire that will be allowed to burn all summer long. At $1 million per day, the suppression cost outlook is estimated to be $60 to $75 million. The acreage estimate is 50,000 to 100,000 acres at containment. Much of that will be due to extensive backburning.


Situation as of 07/09/2023 6:00 pm
Personnel: 598
Size: 4,939 acres
Percent Contained: 25%

Acreage adjustment due to improved detection, mapping. 1539 acres on the Six Rivers NF and 3400 acres on the Shasta-Trinity NF.

Minimal fire growth today. Heavy fuels within burn area continue to burn out at slow to moderate rates of spread. The Red Spot fire is well established in the Eightmile drainage, with active consumption of the heavy fuels but minimal growth.


Situation as of 07/09/2023 10:30 am
Personnel: 477
Size: 5,197 acres
Percent Contained: 25%

Fire behavior was moderate to low. The head of the fire was protected on the lee side of Backbone Ridge. Cooler temperatures and higher humidity limited the potential of the fire to spot. The only significant fire movement was a narrow finger that moved out of the Red Spot Fire. This finger moved SE back towards the main fire.

The combined NIMO/Type 2 IMT organization is in place and will be operational as of 6:00 am this morning.


Situation as of 07/08/2023 5:40 am
Personnel: 412
Size: 4,848 acres
Percent Contained: 25%

Costs to Date: $1,591,063

Today the NIMO team assumed command of the Backbone Fire.  Swartzlander’s Type 2 IMT has been ordered and will be transitioning in with the NIMO team this afternoon. The Incident Command Post has been moved from the Lower Trinity District Office to Willow Creek Veterans Park.

The current strategy for fire containment is to keep the Backbone Fire within the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Crews will continue line construction to the N on Backbone Ridge. Crews are working on additional ridgetop contingency line construction at Fawn Butte on the Shasta-Trinity NF and near Salmon Mountain on Klamath NF boundary.


Situation as of 07/07/2023 6:00 am
Personnel: 322
Size: 4,584 acres
Percent Contained: 25%

Transition to NIMO IMT, continued line construction on S and Wt flanks.
Remarks: Better acreage through IR. Lack of spots between the large spot near Salmon Mountain and the head of the fire on Backbone Ridge will likely allow deployment of crews to the spot today. Crews that picked up the slopover into Red Cap Creek have a chance to hook the head of the main fire today, leaving only the eastern side of the fire open.


Situation as of 07/06/2023 9:30 pm
Personnel: 290
Size: 4,820 acres
Percent Contained: 25%

The fire is burning in timber, a heavy accumulation of dead and down fuels, as well as standing dead snags. The Backbone Fire is located in an area that was severely burned in the Megram Fire in 1996.

There was one large spot fire about two miles N of the main fire just S of Salmon Mountain. The spot grew to 120 acres but has been slowed by the use of aerial retardant drops. At this time the spot has not crossed into the Klamath National Forest.

Crews made significant progress on the S and W flanks of the fire today. Line has been completed into Horse Linto Creek and will start up towards the Trinity Fire tomorrow. On the W flank crews have secured line beyond Trinity Summit. Tomorrow crews will work towards Devil’s Backbone Ridge to keep the fire E of the ridgeline.


Situation as of 07/05/2023 5:30 pm
Personnel: 290
Size: 3,300 acres
Percent Contained: 15%

Costs to Date: $966,000

Merged with Trinity Fire 07/05/2009. Unofficial reports say fire is now 3500-5000 acres on the main Backbone Fire, with spot fires 4 miles N at Salmon Mountain.

Six Rivers Supervisor Tyrone Kelley met with the chairman of the Hoopa Tribe, Leonard Masten, to give a fire update and to discuss the protection of cultural sites within the fire area. The incident command team is working to keep the fire away from the Hoopa Reservation boundary.

Roads and trails in the fire area are now closed to the public. The Horse Ridge National Recreation Trail, Salmon Summit National Scenic Trail and Mill Creek, Tish Tang and Red Cap trails are now closed, as well as Bear Hole, Grizzly Camp and the Willow Creek Big Rock Day Use Area and river access.

The fire is burning within the footprint of the 1999 Megram Fire. Standing dead snags, dead and down logs are actively burning on exposed southwest facing slopes.

6 Jul 2009, 10:40pm
by Mike

Severe burns (such as the Megram Fire in 1996) do not prevent future fires by consuming all the fuels. Instead, green trees are killed but not completely consumed, leaving dead, dry, large wood. Fine fuels (in the form of brush) soon grow back, and the hazard quickly returns.

In this case the second or return fire has occurred in 13 years, a fairly typical return interval for severe fires in Pacific Northwest forests.



web site

leave a comment

  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • By State

  • By Month (ignition date)

  • Recent Fires

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta