Indiana: firefighter injured by falling tree

Cowles Bog Incident
Cowles Bog Incident. NPS Photo

A firefighter working for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in northwest Indiana was injured February 7 when a tree uprooted and fell while he was operating a chain saw, limbing or bucking another tree. Here is an excerpt from the 72-hour report:

…An initial estimate of accident tree was 7.5” DBH and approximately 50 – 60 feet tall. Firefighter A was bent over cutting when he was struck across the shoulders by the tree, knocking him to the ground. The force of the impact drove his face onto the motor housing of thechainsaw. His injuries included a severely broken nose, fractured right eye orbit and fractured T-1 vertebrae. Despite his injuries, he had the presence of mind to shut the chainsaw off to prevent further injury. Firefighter A is an experienced sawyer; he was wearing proper safety gear to include eye and ear protection, as well as a hard hat and chaps. Firefighter A was also working with a partner (Firefighter B) and was able to call out to him for help. Examination of the hard hat shows no indication that it was not contacted by the tree. An initial investigation revealed that the accident tree was poorly rooted into soft soil. Winds were calm at the time of the accident and the soil was thawing after recent freezing rain and snow.

Local EMS resources responded to the scene and transported Firefighter A to the local Regional Hospital. Firefighter A was treated for his injuries, which included plastic surgery to repair his facial injuries. Firefighter A was released from the hospital and did not stay overnight. At this time there is a safety stand-down for the project until a more thorough assessment is completed.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+