Table 3. Burnover incidents outside Australia since 1980


Santa Barbara County Engine 13 was engaged in protecting a house from an approaching urban interface fire. Conditions worsened, and the decision was made to retreat , but intense smoke and embers "choked off the motor and burned out the turbo." The crew were evacuated in another vehicle.


Santa Barbara County Engine 15, was also engaged in structure protection from an approaching urban interface fire. It was parked on a green lawn between 2 buildings with hose lines run off in each direction to cover the buildings. A windshift caused an intensification of the fire, with the fire approaching through trees rather than brush, and the crew retreated to their engine. One of the charged hoselines burned through, rapidly emptying the water supply. The crew of 3 initially sheltered in their engine as the fire approached, then abandoned it when the windows cracked and the interior began to burn. They then deployed their fire shelters and survived without injury

11 Sept 1988 1130h "49ER FIRE" California USA

Dozer 2341 was constructing a break on a slope in brush and low forest above the fire. Weather conditions were deteriorating, with variable winds gusting to 40mph. Spotting began to occur below the dozer, and the operator attempted to leave the area, but found his escape path blocked by fire. He cleared a safety island with the dozer, then took shelter in the enclosed cabin with curtains drawn and was over run by 75-100 foot flames. After 4-5 minutes, the cabin interior ignited and the operator baled out to shelter under a fire blanket behind the blade. He remained there for another 20 minutes until a diesel fuel fire forced him to move to an area between 2 dirt berms where he sheltered for several more minutes. The operator was uninjured , but the dozer was destroyed.

12 Dec 1988 1630h "49ER FIRE" California USA

2 trucks were protecting a house from grass and brush fire approaching uphill. A sudden increase in wind produced a severe intensification of the fire, with flame heights of 125 ft. Engine 2383 departed, with the rear crew deploying pull down fire screens. The truck received minor scorching, and the crew were uninjured Linda Engine 3 was unable to depart, reportedly due to difficulty disengaging the PTO pump. The crew initially sheltered inside the cab, then chose to escape on foot as the interior began to melt. They ran to a safety zone and were evacuated in another vehicle. 2 crew received minor burns, the truck was destroyed.

8 July 1989 0900h "EAGLE FIRE" California USA

Engine 2181 became stuck on a bulldozed firebreak whilst attempting to extinguish a downed tree at the edge of a pine forest. It was being dragged clear by 2 bulldozers, but fire conditions were worsening, with increased intensity and spotting, and it became evident they would not be clear of the forest before being over taken by a spot fire. The dozers cleared a safety zone in the forest, then the dozer crews and the engine crew took shelter in the cabin of the truck with their personal fire shelters deployed to block the radiant heat form the windows. They weathered the fire and stayed within the safety zone for the next 3 hours before being able to exit the forest. There was no equipment damage and no injuries.

8 July 1989 1440h "EAGLE FIRE" California USA

Engines 2387 , 4474 and 2379 with a total of 9 crew were stationary on a highway with some dismounted to attack a spot fire downhill in grass and brush . The main fire was approaching the other side of the highway. Winds were light but erratic and the temperature was 95 degrees F. The main fire generated a fire whirl with a height of 200ft and windspeeds of 100mph, which, within seconds, crossed the highway and overran the crews and the trucks. One of the outside crew was standing adjacent Engine 2387 but was unable to get inside due to the fierce wind and flame. He was uninjured and the vehicle suffered only minor heat damage. The others were cut off from their vehicles, 1 deployed his personal fire shelter on the highway and was uninjured. High winds prevented the others from deploying. One sustained critical and another 3 minor to moderate burn injuries.


1 crew sheltered in truck cabin during burnover, then baled out into flames when windscreen blew. Injuries: Critically burned


Multiple engines lost when overrun by fast moving fire (?grassfire). Crews all baled out and survived using personal fire shelters.

2 Oct 1993 " MARRE FIRE" Los Padres Forest, California USA

Several trucks trapped in bulldozed safety zone in forest during lengthy and repeated (but probably not very intense) burnover. Crews sheltered in trucks with engines and aircond running, and holding shelters up to windows as heat shields. Engine 2-7 suffered engine failure when its diesel engine ingested embers.

27 Oct 1993 "ROCKY FIRE" Chatsworth, Los Angeles USA

4 crew seriously burned when engine overrun


"A burnover of an engine and crew was captured on video tape." "almost killed the crew"

28 July 1995 2100h "POINT FIRE" Idaho USA

Kuna Engine 620 (1954 Ex US army 6x6 petrol ) was already disabled on the fireground , possibly with an engine overheat, when it was overrun by an intense, wind driven grass and brush fire with flame heights in excess of 20 feet. The 2 crew sheltered in the cabin, but the truck was destroyed by fire and the 2 crew killed. The truck had no self defense hoses or spray equipment, and the crew had no personal fire shelters

26 April 1996 1600-1700h "DOME FIRE" Santa Fe National Forest USA

48 ground and mounted firefighters deployed fireshelters at 3 locations over a 1 hour period when trapped by fire in rapidly changing conditions in the Santa Fe National Forest. Engine 5 was destroyed and 1 crew injured sheltering under fireshelters. Engine 91 was also abandoned by its crew in favour of their personal fire shelters. There were no injuries and the vehicle survived.

7 October 1996 "FAYETTE FIRE" Wyoming USA

Engine 97 was patrolling a backburn when the wind increased and flames began to impinge on the truck. The driver attempted to reverse out, but the vehicles engine (unknown if petrol or diesel) died , although the pump engine continued to run. Repeated attempts to restart the engine failed, and the truck was abandoned and consumed by fire. The driver suffered minor injuries.

22 Oct 1996 1245h "CALABASSAS INCIDENT" Malibu, California USA

3 Trucks were overrun in 2 separate incidents by a fast moving fire running uphill whilst protecting houses at urban interface fire. The fire reportedly moved over 600 feet in the 30 seconds leading up to the burnover.

1) Glendale Engine 24: 1 crew sheltered in truck operating pumps and hoses to knock fire down in surrounding trees whilst fire went past. 3 Ran for cover in intended safety zone in house : 1 of the crew on foot received critical burns, the other 2 received minor burns. The crew member who stayed with the truck was uninjured

2) Los Angeles City Engine 10: Truck’s diesel engine stalled after being stopped by traffic in front in heavy smoke, and was then overrun by fire. 4 crew sheltered in cabin under part opened fire shelters. The truck was seriously damaged but not destroyed by fire. Injuries : -1 seriously burned (not wearing PPE), 3 minor or no burns

3) Los Angeles City Engine 17: Truck cabin briefly exposed to severe radiant heat and rear of truck to flame before being driven clear. Crew stayed in cab, holding clothing up to windows to cut radiant heat There were no injuries.

6 August 1997 1405h "LOGAN FIRE" California USA

1) CDF Engine 3473 with 3 crew became trapped on a forest roadway as changing conditions at a backburn produced spotting. 2 crew stayed outside, operating a hoseline for self defense until forced to shelter in the vehicle wheel well behind a fog pattern as fire passed, then entered the cabin, holding a part opened fire shelter up to block the radiant heat. The 3rd sheltered in the vehicle. All were uninjured. The truck survived with moderate scorching.

2) 3 bulldozers and a 4x4 utility were constructing a firebreak when the fire "made a rapid run at them, cutting off their escape route" . 2 crew prepared to be overrun by fire, deploying shelters under a dozer, the other 2 took shelter in the enclosed cabin of another dozer. At the same time, the helicopter overhead noted their predicament, and landed, rescuing the 4 and departing just before the area was overrun.

20 July 1998 1800h "HYATT FIRE" California USA

Engine 224 drove off road around a horse trailer to avoid an oncoming grassfire, but became ‘beached’ on berm despite 4WD. 2 crew escaped on foot to shelter in house. Injuries: 1 uninjured, 1 minor burns (not wearing PPE)

22 July 1998 ATHENS Greece

Greek Fire Service Tanker (Stayer 4x4 diesel unit with no high sides, crew haven, fixed sprays or curtains) with 4 crew was over run in a clearing by fast uphill running pine forest fire (exact circumstances unknown) All 4 left the truck and were killed attempting to flee the fire uphill. The truck cabin remained intact, the exterior received minor scorching and the rear tyres caught fire. It was driven away the next day after the tyres were changed. fighters receive little specific bushfire training in Greece, and may have been unaware of the potential benefits of staying with the vehicle.


High sides = vertical extensions on the tray sides for radiant heat protection

Charged Lines = hoselines which are instantly operable from the truck tray for fire suppression or self defense

Fixed sprays = permanent sprinklers fitted to the vehicle for burnover protection

Window screens = radiant heat curtains to reduce heat transmission through vehicle windows

Crew Haven = a purpose built structure on the truck tray for protection of the rear crew from fire and impact