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Local Staff Ride Archive

Stand 3 - The Pep Talk

Tippin's squad crossed the saddle from Rock Creek heading east up a dry drainage. The McConnell Trail parallels this drainage leading up to the fire. They stopped and took short breaks several times as they hiked up toward the fire. They left one person at Rock Creek as a water boy. As they progressed up the trail, 4 squad members fell behind. Some time between 15:15 and 15:30, Tippin and 5 of his squad reached the ridge at the head of the dry drainage. The fire was backing down the ridge to the north of this location. It is here that Tippin gave his tactical briefing, described by survivors as the "Pep Talk". He delivered his briefing before the 4 other squad members reached his location. Within seconds of finishing or during his briefing the wind abruptly shifted from the west to the east and increased to more than 40 miles per hour. They were now directly in the path of the oncoming head fire. He gave the order to begin walking back to the truck. The 4 squad members who were still hiking up saw Tippin and party hiking back toward them. They immediately turned around and began running back toward the truck. Tippin gives an order not to run and "save your breath for the fatal moment." Tippin then hears the roar of the fire, turns and looks again; he then gives the order to run. As they dropped down into the drainage the fire outflanks them on the ridgetops and heavy smoke hinders their orientation.

Click to see Topo Map with fire progression and stand locations.

Click to hear interview excerpts from Raymond Gabica, ranch hand that helped initial attack the fire.
(Requires a media player capable of playing MP3 audio. Click here to download the free Windows Media Player.)

Above Stand 3, looking west down the dry drainage that Tippin's squad hiked up.

Typical of the fuel conditions that were present in the area prior to 1939.