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Warming Fire Burns Logging Worker

Safety Alert

By Forest Resources Assn.
Date Posted: 4/1/2006


        On a winter morning in the Southeast, a logging company employee was attempting to build a warming fire at the logging site.

Personal Characteristics

        The individual was 48 and had been working in the woods for over 20 years. He was a utility man on the landing, responsible for moving trailers, moving loads, etc.

Unsafe Act or Condition

        The employee poured a mixture of diesel fuel and gasoline onto the small fire that he had started in order to get it going better. (Note: he had asked his employers for permission to start the fire; his request was denied, but he started the fire regardless.)


        As he poured the fuel mixture onto the fire, the flames flared up, and the employee’s clothes caught on fire. He ran, which fanned the flames more.


        Two co-workers, both firefighters for their local fire department, chased the employee and put out the flames (with the assistance of ‘Coldfire’). The worker suffered burns to 70% of his body. Forty percent of his burns were third-degree burns, and 30% were second-degree. The injured employee was taken to a burn center for extensive, ongoing, long-term medical treatment.


1.)  Warming fires should be discouraged at logging sites.

2.)  If fires are allowed, they should be contained (i.e., in some safe type of burn barrel).

3.)  A fire extinguisher should be readily accessible at any warming fire.

4.)  Flammable or combustible liquids – including gasoline, chain saw fuel or diesel fuel — should not be used to start a fire or to revive one.

5.)  All employees should be trained in first aid, including how to treat burns until medical attention can be provided.

6.)  If your clothes catch on fire, remember: ‘stop, drop, and roll.’      

(Source: Forest Resources Assn.) 


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