Dude Fire (Arizona) June 26, 1990

Incident Summary:

June of 1990 will long be remembered as one of the hottest months in Arizona history. On June 26, record temperatures were reported at 122 ºF in Phoenix and 106 ºF in Payson. In addition to the extreme temperatures, Arizona had been in a severe three-year drought. This combination produced a critically high fire danger throughout the state, especially in the Mogollon Rim country on the Payson Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest (TNF) north of Payson. Fuels in the area are primarily ponderosa pine with an understory of mixed oak, manzanita, needle and leaf litter, and scattered large (greater than 6 inch diameter) dead logs. Much of the understory brush was heavily draped with very dry pine needles. Live fuel moisture in the manzanita and oak was very low (76%). Fine dead fuel moisture was 3% and 8% for larger dead fuels.

At 1230 on June 25, a dry lightning storm started a fire under the Mogollon Rim . The fire was on a steep, southwest-facing slope at 6,400 feet elevation. The fire was estimated from the air at 5 acres at 1330, at 50 acres one hour later, and at over 100 acres by 1615, with a spot fire one mile east of the main fire. By 1800, a Type 2 Incident Management Team (IMT) had arrived and a Type 1 IMT and 18 crews had been ordered. Brisk down canyon winds pushed the fire, and it was 1,900 acres by 0500 on June 26, threatening the forest subdivision of Bonita Creek Estates. A convection column, aided by combustion, began forming over the fire by 1000. The column continued to grow and became a fully mature thunderstorm by 1400. Radio and frequency issues caused a breakdown in communication between the crews and the IMT. The team transition mid-shift resulted in confusion between the crews and supervision. The thunderstorm also began to decay, creating strong downbursts channeled by the topography. This caused dramatic down- and cross-slope fire spread on nearly all sides of the fire. Members of the Perryville Fire Crew would not be able to escape from the fast and erratic fire spread. Five were injured. Six died on the fireline.


THANK YOU Dude Fire Memorial BC Volunteers

Mike & Renee Lynch, Ken Nagy, Scott Briggs, Gilbert Schmitt, Tim Mendoza, Dave Kelly, Dan Hosking, Ken Stout, Jack Helzer, Kyle Disilvestro, Joe Knapp, Jeff Knapp, Brian Knapp.  Web Designer, Bryan Staley

Dude Fire Memorial Rebuild More photos to come...

WOULD YOU LIKE TO DONATE TO THE MEMORIAL? Please fill out the contact form below

Donations are greatly appreciated.   This project is going to be built to last.  There will be an official gathering including City of Payson, Phoenix News Crew, TNF Department, Families of the fallen and many more to honor our Dude Fire Memorial. 

If you would like to donate, Mr. Mike Lynch a Bonita Creek resident, will be handling all of the donations.  Completing the form below will reach out to him where he can show you the best way to donate to the cause and answer any questions you may have.  Thank you. 

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