Reports of five fatalities in central plains wildfires

There are reports that five civilians, not firefighters, have been killed in wildfires in recent days in Texas and Kansas.

In Gray County, Texas, approximately 60 to 80 miles east of panhandle city of Amarillo, three ranch hands were killed as they were moving cattle out ahead of a fire, according to Judge Richard Peet. In Texas county judges are responsible for suppression of wildfires.

Another person was killed in Hemphill County, Texas near Oklahoma border.

The Kansas Highway Patrol says 39-year-old Corey Holt, of Oklahoma City, jackknifed Monday while trying to back up his tractor-trailer on highway 34 in Clark County due to poor visibility from the fires. He was killed after he got out of his vehicle.

Firefighter killed in dozer accident on Soberanes fire

(Updated 5:46 a.m. MDT, July 28, 2016)

The operator of a bulldozer was killed while working on the Soberanes fire, one of two major wildfires burning in California and one that has already destroyed 20 homes.

The operator was killed when the bulldozer rolled over, and another operator was injured in a similar incident, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Other reports say the dozer operator died of injuries on Tuesday night.

The bulldozer operator was working on a call-when-needed basis overnight when the fatal accident occurred, according to information posted on CAL FIRE’s website. The dozer was one of 60 assigned to the fire in Monterey County.

Officials have not yet released the name of the operator who was killed. California’s other major blaze, the Sand fire, killed a man this week outside of Los Angeles.

Check back with wildfiretoday.com for more on this story.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Chris and Daniel.

L.A. County wildfire destroys 18 homes, kills one

A fire raging in Los Angeles County destroyed at least 18 homes and killed one person, whose body was found outside of a home in Santa Clarita, according to local media reports. 

Thousands of homes remain threatened as the Sand fire doubled in size from Friday to Saturday. Officials had planned to lift evacuation orders for some threatened neighborhoods, but changed their minds after an unexpected wind event, according to updates on inciweb.com.

Drones have also caused problems for firefighting efforts on the Sand fire, according to a posting from the incident management team on inciweb.com.  Local media reported that a drone flying in the Bear Divide area of the Angeles National Forest suspended flight operations on Sunday for 30 minutes.

On Friday, a similar incident shutdown fire operations in Montana.

Some quick facts about the Sand fire:

  • Started: July 22, around 2:15 p.m. PST
  • Cause: Undetermined
  • Total personnel: 1,673
  • Size: 22,000 acres
  • Resources: 122 engines, 39 hand crews, 15 helicopters and 8 dozers.

 

 

Delaware firefighter falls from helicopter to his death

During a training exercise a volunteer firefighter fell from a helicopter.

LODD Delaware firefighterA firefighter with the Lewes Fire Department in Delaware was killed Monday night when he fell from a State Police helicopter during monthly hoist training.

Below is an excerpt from Delaware Online:

..”Two volunteer firemen, along with a pilot and a trooper medic, were on board the helicopter,” said DSP spokesman Sgt. Richard Bratz. “As one of the firefighters stepped out onto the skid, at an undetermined height, he fell to the grassy area below the helicopter. At that point, the helicopter immediately landed, and the trooper medic and volunteer firefighter on board immediately responded and began medical assistance.”

Other firefighters rushed to the scene and assisted, Bratz said. The firefighter was transported to Beebe Healthcare, where he was pronounced dead. No one else on the scene got medical attention…

The Lewes Fire Department posted this message on their Facebook page:

It is with deep, deep regret that the Officers and Members of the Lewes Fire Department announce the passing of one of our own earlier today. Further details on remembrance services are to follow.

Our sincere condolences go out to the friends and family of the firefighter.

Washington DNR says powerline caused the fatal Twisp River Fire

An investigator’s report on the cause of the fatal Twisp River Fire revealed that a tree branch contacting a power line ignited, dropped to the ground, and started the fire west of Twisp, Washington.

Three firefighters for the U.S. Forest Service were killed inside their vehicle August 19, 2015 when they were attempting to escape from the rapidly spreading fire. A fourth firefighter exited the vehicle and ran to safety. He was severely burned, but survived, hospitalized for three months. The deceased were Tom Zbyszewki, 20, Andrew Zajac, 26, and Richard Wheeler, 31. The injured firefighter was Daniel Lyon, 25, of Puyallup, Washington.

The Seattle Times obtained a copy of the investigation report through a public records request. The entire 38-page document can be seen here.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly.

Vermont firefighter dies following heart attack at brush fire

He had volunteered as a firefighter for 40 years and served as his town’s fire warden for two decades.

Volunteer firefighter Steven Lapierre, 58, died Thursday of complications after suffering a heart attack while helping to suppress a brush fire in Georgia, Vermont on April 27.

He was a career firefighter having retired from the St. Albans City Fire Department in 2010.

Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Lapierre’s family, friends, and the Georgia Volunteer Fire Department.