Firefighters Allen and Heath rappelled off of a helicopter into a rugged part of the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The 2 were charged with establishing a helicopter landing zone to facilitate efforts to fight the Cramer fire. The fire was started by a lightning strike.
The firefighters were dropped at the site at 0943hrs. They were contacted throughout the day by radio to assess their progress. At approximately 1500hrs, they made radio contact and requested that they be picked up. No helicopters were available at that time. A more urgent request for pickup was received at 1509hrs. At 1513hrs, the firefighters reported fire below them and that the fire was advancing toward them. A helicopter arrived at approximately 1524hrs but was unable to land due to smoke conditions.
Observers on other aircraft witnessed fire progression and extremely high flame fronts in the area of Firefighters Allen and Heath. Further attempts to contact the firefighters by radio were unsuccessful. The bodies of both firefighters were found together by other firefighters later in the day.
Both firefighters carried fire shelters but neither shelter was found fully deployed. The cause of death for both firefighters was listed as massive burns.
A full report on the incident prepared by the United States Forest Service is available at: