Coal Canyon Fire: Five years later |

Coal Canyon Fire: Five years later

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Wildland Fire Division is using the five-year anniversary of the fatal Coal Canyon fire in Fall River County to remind all firefighters about safety.

Aug. 11, 2011, state engine 561 from SD Wildland Fire’s Hot Springs field office was burned over during initial attack of the Coal Canyon fire. It claimed the life of engine captain Trampus Haskvitz and injured two other firefighters.

Division director Jay Esperance says his past two months of leading incident management teams on large wildfires in Colorado has reinforced the lesson not to directly attack wildfires actively burning in bark beetle killed forests. “The same tactic applies to fires burning in beetle killed timber stands in the Black Hills. The stakes are too high with regard to firefighting safety and to human life to risk direct attack in those areas.”

SD Wildland Fire firefighters will spend time on Aug. 11 honoring the memory of Trampus Haskvitz by discussing safe ways to engage wildfires.

Esperance says, “At no time, do I want any firefighters in South Dakota to directly attack a wildland fire without safe anchor points or escape routes to safety zones firmly established. Strategies will be used to contain such fires by indirect attack where it is safe to do so.”

Follow South Dakota Wildland Fire on Twitter @SDWildlandFire and on Facebook by searching SD Wildland Fire.

Agriculture is a major contributor to South Dakota’s economy, generating $25.6 billion in annual economic activity and employing over 115,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s mission is to promote, protect, preserve and improve this industry for today and tomorrow. Visit us online at or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

–South Dakota Department of Agriculture

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