|On July 6, 1994, the South Canyon Fire caused the death of 14 firefighters, 7 miles west of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.|
Starting on July 5th initial attack and extended attack resources were assigned to the South Canyon Fire as they became available. During the first few days the fire spread by backing downhill, on July 6th the winds and fire activity began to increase. At 3:20 p.m. on July 6th a dry cold front moved across the fire area. At 4:00 p.m. the fire crossed the bottom of the West Drainage. It soon spotted back across the drainage to the east side beneath the firefighters and moved onto steep slopes and into dense, highly flammable drought-stressed Gambel Oak brush. Within seconds a wall of flame raced up the hill toward the firefighters on the west flank fireline. Failing to outrun encroaching flames, 12 firefighters perished in close proximity to the west flank fireline 240 feet below the ridge. Two helitack crew members on the top of the ridge also died when they tried to escape the fire to the northwest. The remaining 35 firefighters on the South Canyon Fire survived by escaping down the East Drainage or by deploying their fire shelters at another location.
The follow-up actions to the South Canyon Fire led to higher training standards, an increased emphasis on weather information and fire danger recognition, the study of human factors in wildland firefighting, and interagency standards for fire operations.