The fire had been started the previous afternoon by a 16-yr-old boy on the Inaja Indian Reservation when he tossed a match into some dry grass to see if it would burn. The fire had already burned 25,000 acres by the following afternoon and was spreading towards populated areas.
The night crew on November 25 consisted of firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and volunteer inmates from the Viejas Honor Camp. The men were cutting a line in a deep ravine when the flames suddenly rushed towards them. The crew boss ordered the men to leave immediately when he saw the flames. Six men escaped, but eleven were caught in a "flash-over" and perished.
As a result of this tragedy The Ten Standard Firefighting Orders were developed and remain in use today.
The Ten Standard Firefighting Orders
- Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts.
- Know what your fire is doing at all times.
- Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire.
- Identify escape routes and safety zones and make them known.
- Post lookouts when there is possible danger.
- Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively.
- Maintain prompt communications with your forces, your supervisor, and adjoining forces.
- Give clear instructions and insure they are understood.
- Maintain control of your forces at all times.
- Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first.
Located on Highway 78 just above the town of Santa Ysabel. There is an adjoining parking lot and picnic grounds with restrooms as well as a hiking trail.
For benchmark hunters, a U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Benchmark is located near the memorial.