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Church Camp Fire Report

Church Camp Fire Report

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Published by Geoff Liesik

The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands final report on the Church Camp Fire, which began June 24, 2012, and cost $5.7 million to fight.

The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands final report on the Church Camp Fire, which began June 24, 2012, and cost $5.7 million to fight.

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Published by: Geoff Liesik on Dec 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/17/2013

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Incident No:
000123June 24, 2012Page 1 of 9
DIVISION OF FORESTRY, FIRE & STATE LANDS
I
NCIDENT
R
EPORT
N
ATURE OF
I
NCIDENT
:
Wildland Fire (Church Camp)
S
TATUTE
:
(State) UCA 65A-3-4 Liability for causing Wildland Fire
D
ATE
:
06/24/2012
I
NCIDENT
N
O
:
UT-MES-000123 (Duchesne County)
S
USPECT
[
S
]:
Unknown
L
OCATION
:
T. 11 S., R. 11 E., SLB&MSection: 16, SE 1/4: (GPS N 39
°
51’34.97”- W 110
°
41’18.9”)
N
ARRATIVE
:Synopsis:
The fire was located south of Argyle Canyon on land owned by the School and Institutional TrustLands Administration (SITLA). The fire origin is located on the west side of a large slash pile that
 
Incident No:
000123June 24, 2012Page 2 of 9was created during a logging operation on adjacent SITLA property. The slash pile is locatedon the top of a ridge and south of a landing that was used to collect trees and logs from thesurrounding harvested area. It was apparent that the slash pile had been burned prior to theChurch Camp Fire. According to representatives from SITLA this slash pile was burned onDecember 2, 2010 by SITLA staff. The Church Camp Fire advanced northward pushed bysouth/southwest winds. The fire consumed approximately 7,211 acres of state, private andnational forest land. Several cabins and other structures were destroyed by the fire. Theestimated suppression cost of the Church Camp Fire was $5,700,000.A dead bull Elk was discovered by firefighters a short distance from the origin area of the fire.The Elk was near the outer edge of the fire and was not burned. The Elk had an arrow in itand appeared to have been shot around the same time that the fire started. The Division of WildlifeResources is investigating the Elk incident and at this point there is no evidence that the fire andpoaching incidents are related.
Background:
The Church Camp Fire was first reported at 18:02 on 6/24/2010 by Lana Wolsky (801602-3079). The Duchesne County Fire Warden was dispatched at 18:08 and arrived on thefire at 19:57. I was requested to investigate the Church Camp Fire on 06/26/2012. I arrivedat the Incident Command Post (ICP) which had been set up near the east side of CampTimberline, which is a youth camp owned and operated by the LDS Church, on the afternoonof 06/26. The fire was burning actively to the north and suppression resources were workingthe fire. I spoke with Ken Ludwig who works for the Division of Forestry, Fire & Sate Lands
 
Incident No:
000123June 24, 2012Page 3 of 9(FFSL) and was among the initial attack personnel who originally responded to the fire on 6/24.Ken directed me to the location where they first engaged the fire on the night of 6/24. He alsotold me that the camp managers of the youth camp had arrived on the scene of the fire beforethe initial attack resources. The camp managers drove into the area of the ICP as I was talkingwith Ken so I asked them to show me where the fire was burning when they arrived and tellme what they knew about the early stages of the fire.Camp Managers Mont Jensen and CR Charlesworth along with their wives lead me to the areawhere they first observed the fire and showed me where it was burning when they first observedit. They indicated that it was burning below (east) of the main access road that we were parkedupon and below (north) of a ridge located to the south. They indicated that they later returnedto the fire in the “camp truck” and constructed some fire-line with shovels to keep the fire frommoving westward.I left the fire on the evening of 6/26 and returned on 7/11 with DWR officers, on 7/19 withrepresentatives from SITLA, on 8/15 with the loggers, Jeff & Sam Fabrizio and again on 10/2with SITLA staff.
INVESTIGATION:
Investigator Jason Curry and I performed an extensive evaluation of the origin area of the fireon 7/11. We walked the area of the fire where Mr. Jensen and Mr. Charlesworth told us thatthey had first observed the fire on the day that it started. We traced burn indicators back to thearea of the slash pile on the ridge at the south end of the fire. We observed loose ash withinthe slash pile and when I walked across the top of it, approximately in the center of the pile, bothof my feet went into ash nearly up to my knees and it felt like my shoes were getting warm.The loose ash seemed to indicate that the pile was burned recently. We observed that there

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