Wild Fires

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

Who’s in charge of naming wild fires and how on Earth did they get that job? There are some weird (read: stupid) names for wild fires right now. We have the School Fire, the Burned Bread Fire, and the Dirty Face Fire.

Canada, on the other hand, has the Thunder Bay 57 Fire, which is a kick-ass name for a wild fire.

We should be more like Canada.

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  1. Tom

    This may not totally answer your question, but here is some information I found on the web. The Dirty Face fire is named for the Dirty Face mountain where it started and the School fire is named that because it started in School Canyon. I don’t know where the mountain or canyon got their names. I haven’t been able to find the source of the name for the Burnt Bread fire.

    There have been Western wildfires named Cheddar Cheese and Devil’s Bathtub, Storm King and Coal Seam.

    From the whimsical to the dramatic, wildfire names now come from some prominent geographic feature identified by the first firefighter on the scene.

    It wasn’t always that way. Firefighter Marilyn Sagerstrom remembers a blaze 18 years ago that got its name from a snack carried by Jan Rice, the first firefighter who responded.

    “He had a box of cheddar cheese crackers, so he called it the Cheddar Cheese fire,” said Sagerstrom, 71, an information officer with the Lefthand Canyon volunteer fire department near Boulder.

    The 120,000-acre blaze charging through the pine-covered foothills of the Pike National Forest south of Denver is known as the Hayman Fire, after a ghost town in the area. The fire was named by Forest Service employee Larry Klock.

    The Coal Seam fire that burned more than 12,000 acres and destroyed 29 homes near Glenwood Springs earlier this month took its name from a long-smoldering underground coal fire that burst to the surface and ignited brush and trees.

    One of the worst wildfire disasters in U.S. history, a 1994 blaze that killed 14 firefighters, has become known as the Storm King fire after the mountain where the crew died. Officially, the blaze was known as the South Canyon fire.

    As of Wednesday, there were more than a dozen large fires burning across the country, including the Miracle Complex in Colorado and the Rodeo fire in Arizona. A smaller blaze in New Mexico was called the Dad fire.

    Dave Nyquist, chief of the Lefthand Canyon fire department, has named many fires in his career, but his favorite name was Devil’s Bathtub.

    “The fire was around the big rocky knob that looked just like a bathtub, and there was water inside, but it was a lot hotter than you’d want to get into,” he said.

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