Wildfire news, September 17, 2008

Firefighter injured while falling a snag

On September 10 a firefighter from the Entiat Hot Shots was injured while falling a snag on the Rattle fire near Toketee Falls, Oregon.

From NRtoday.com, Sept. 16:

Pilar Castro, a Wenatchee, Wash., firefighter said to be in his mid-20s, suffered a fractured skull and broken ribs when the top of a dead tree broke off and struck him Wednesday, said Robin DeMario, spokeswoman for the Okanogan-Wenatchee 

National Forest.

Castro, a member of a hot shot crew, had to have surgery on his skull and part of his jaw reconstructed. He was flown by helicopter to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg.

The firefighter remained there in fair condition this morning, a hospital spokeswoman said. DeMario said Castro is expected to fly today to a hospital in Wenatchee, where he will undergo rehabilitation for about a month.

From Inciweb, Sept. 13:

Last Wednesday evening, a firefighter was injured while cutting a dead tree with a chain saw along the fire line. He was injured near his cheek and bruised his ribs. After being airlifted to the hospital in Roseburg, he was treated for his injuries and is recuperating. On Sunday, he will be flown home to Washington State where he is expected to make a full recovery. It was very fortunate that his accident occurred near an established helicopter landing site where he could be air lifted for immediate medical treatment. 

Thanks for the tip, LR
Oregon:  Rattle fire spots 2 miles ahead

Rocks and logs on Highway 138, Sept. 10, 2008
The fire on which the firefighter was injured while falling a snag last week has been very active.

Idleyld Park, OR — Yesterday’s severe fire weather conditions contributed to some very extreme fire behavior. A plume of smoke rose to over 35,000 feet and carried fire brands up to 2 miles from the head of the fire. The fire grew an estimated 4,183 acres and now totals 11,207 acres, most of which remains within the boundary of the Boulder Creek Wilderness. 

Photo and text from InciWeb

San Diego County contracts for Superscoopers

San Diego County is gradually taking steps to increase their fire preparedness after being criticized in reports following their massive fires of 2003 and 2007.  The City of San Diego recently purchased their second helicopter, and the County is contracting for two Bombardier CL-415 Superscooper air tankers and a lead plane for three months.
HERE is a link to a page with a video from San Diego 6 that shows a demonstration of the aircraft in action Tuesday.
Contract firefighter dies following road grader accident
A 77-year-old Happy Camp man has died from injuries suffered while serving as a contract firefighter in Siskiyou County, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said Tuesday.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday commended Curtis Hillman Sr. for his service and announced that Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff in his honor, a spokesman from his office said.
Hillman, a member of the Karuk tribe, was operating a grader to improve road conditions and access for firefighters. They were working the Siskiyou and Blue 2 Complex of fires when Hillman was injured Aug. 25, public information officer Mike Ferris said.
He was working on forest roads 14 and 21, about half a mile from Highway 96 just south of Dillon Creek Campground, Ferris said. The area is halfway between Happy Camp and Orleans.
When his grader failed to start, Hillman and another worker tried to fix the problem. The grader then started, but its brake failed and it began to roll backward. Both men fell or jumped off the machine, and Hillman hit his head, Ferris said.
He was flown to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, where he died from his injuries Thursday, Ferris said.
His is the 13th death as a result of the June lightning strikes that ignited fires across the north state.
A celebration of Hillman’s life is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the River Park Pavilion in Happy Camp, Ferris said.