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Burrs Branch Fire Fatalities

Two fatalities occurred on the Burrs Branch Fire in Rowan County, Kentucky early in the evening of April 6, 1999. The deceased were members of the Rowan County Volunteer Fire Department Station #377. Investigation of the fatalities is currently being led by the Kentucky State Police. At least part of the fire was on National Forest land, on the Morehead District of the Daniel Boone National Forest. The following is a summary of events as we know them as of 2230, April 6, 1999:

1727 - The Morehead District FMO contacted Forest Dispatch that heard (via a scanner) a Morehead Policy Department report of two fires involving National Forest land in the Island Fork area. At the time, the FMO and District resources responded to the fires.

Note: The Volunteer Fire Department was first on the scene followed by Kentucky Division of Forestry. 1832 - The District FMO contacted the District office via cell phone with the fire location.

Note: Cell phones are used to supplement the Forest radio communications. The District had a person staffing radio and phone communications at the District office who in turn relayed information between the Incident and Forest Dispatch.

1848 - District communications contacted Dispatch to relay that the District FMO had notified them that there were apparent fatalities on the Incident. He requested that Forest Law Enforcement respond as soon as possible. It was not known if the fatalities were fire department personnel or local private citi-zens. At this time, Dispatch contacted the DistrictÕs LEO who was assisting with a fire on the neighbor-ing District. The LEO indicated there were no other LEOÕs on duty at Morehead at the time. Dispatch then contacted the Forest Supervisory LEO who indicated he would respond.

1854 - Dispatch requested the District LEO to leave the current location on the neighboring District and proceed to the BurrÕs Branch Fire.

1857 - Dispatch was notified that fatalities were confirmed and Forest Protocols were initiated. Dis-patch was also notified that Forest Service resources would be working the right flank of the fire, away from the fatality site.

Note: The Kentucky Division of Forestry was working the left flank.

The Forest FMO initiated contact and notification of the Forest Supervisor, the Forest PAO, the Forest Safety Officer, and the Southern Regional Office.

1859 - Dispatch was notified that the fire was approximately 50 acres.

1910 - The Forest PAO reported to Dispatch to assist with information gathering and appropriate notifi-cations.

Note: The following times are approximations.
Ñ2000 - Morehead District Ranger contacted the Forest FMO via cell phone. Fatalities were confirmed to be two individuals from the local VFD. The fire was believed to have started on private land, and the fatalities also appeared to have occurred on private land. The Kentucky State Police and the Rowan County Coroner were at the scene and were conducting the preliminary investigation. According to the Ranger, the deceased appeared to have been caught above the fire in a drainage which developed the chimney effect. The Ranger notified the FMO that a meeting had been scheduled for 0900 on April 7 to proceed with the investigation. At the time a minimum of the Forest SLEO, the Ranger, and a Kentucky State Arson Investigator were going to participate.

Note: The Forest FMO contacted the State Fire Chief who was aware of the situation. Information was exchanged, and found to be similar.

Ñ2130 - The District Ranger notified the Forest FMO that the line was being tied-in and that no ad-ditional resources were needed. He also re-confirmed the previous information regarding the fatalities.

--2200 - The Forest FMO is contacted by the Forest SLEO. The Kentucky State Police is currently the primary investigating agency. The fireÕs point of origin could not be confirmed until day light. It ~p. peared to be on private lands.

Land ownership at the fatality site could not be confirmed until daylight. It appeared to be on private land.

It is still too early in the investigation to determine an exact chain of events. It appeared that the fire came around the point of the ridge and ran up the drainage, trapping the fire fighters.

A more detailed briefing will be prepared following the 0900 meeting.

All media calls regarding the fatality are being forwarded to the Kentucky State Police.

2312 - The District FMO notified Dispatch that the fire was contained at approximately 100 acres. The
District will have an engine with two personnel monitoring the fire through the night. District resources
(12 FFTRÕs) will be assigned in the morning. Burn-out operations and line reinforcement are planned
for the morning.

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