The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center has published preliminary reports for three recent accidents — two burnovers and one very serious snag incident. Below are the summaries of the three accidents. It usually takes many months for the final, complete reports to be written and released.
Snag accident on the Freezeout Ridge Fire, Nez Perce National Forest in Idaho, one injury, September 21, 2014:
Firefighters from the Winema Hotshot crew were working on the Northeast edge of the Freezeout Ridge Fire when a snag fell and struck a Firefighter. The individual was knocked unconscious and it was determined by personnel on scene that life flight medical attention was needed. The individual was treated on scene by crew members, then transported via helicopter, long lined to a heli-spot where he was treated by a paramedic and transported to a hospital in Boise. He is being treated for severe head injuries including a skull fracture, broken jaw, lacerations to the face and head, two broken arms, dislocated thumb, and minor burns.
A Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) team has convened and began to assess the incident.
Because a decision was made to deviate from aviation policy in order to potentially save the life of the injured firefighter, a SAFECOM was filed. That aspect of the incident is covered at Fire Aviation.
Entrapment on the King Fire in northern California, no serious injuries, September 15, 2014:
We wrote about this entrapment live as it was developing.
Below is the information from CAL FIRE’s preliminary report:
The following information is a preliminary summary report referencing a Heavy Fire Equipment Operator , a Fire Captain B and CAL FIRE inmate fire crewmembers involved in a burnover during a wildland fire incident. There were no serious injuries suffered by CAL FIRE personnel or inmate crewmembers. The extent of the damage to the CAL FIRE bulldozer is unknown at the time of this report.
On September 15, 2014, a CAL FIRE Fire Captain (FCB-1), with inmate fire crewmembers (CRW-1), and a CAL FIRE Heavy Fire Equipment Operator (HFEO-1) were assigned to Division K (DIV K) on the King Incident in El Dorado County. CRW-1 and HFEO-1 were working on the northeast side of the King Incident. The reported assignment was to go direct and contain a slop over on a mid-slope road. At approximately 1245 hours, FCB-1 observed an increase in the fire behavior, and determined to cancel the assignment. FCB-1 notified HFEO-1 and with the inmate crewmembers took refuge at a deployment site. HFEO-1 was forced to leave the bulldozer by foot and took refuge at the deployment site with FCB-1 and CRW-1. The personnel deployed their fire shelters. Air support was requested, accountability maintained and their location was communicated. The personnel were evacuated by helicopter and transported to the helibase. They were evaluated by paramedics and returned to the Incident Base later the same day. There were no serious injuries suffered in this incident.
Entrapment on the Black Fire in California’s Mendocino County, September 13, 2014, two minor injuries, three engines damaged:
The Willits News has a photo of one of the engines that burned.
Below is the summary from the CAL FIRE preliminary report:
On Saturday September 13, 2014, at approximately 1625 hours, a rapidly moving wildland fire burned over two local agency Type III engines and one CAL FIRE utility vehicle; destroying one of the two engines and the utility. The second engine sustained significant heat damage. Two local agency fire personnel suffered minor injuries, and were treated and released at a local medical facility. During the same fire run, firefighters on a CAL FIRE engine having to take refuge in a structure. The CAL FIRE engine sustained minor damage. The engine operator suffered minor injuries and was treated and released at a local medical facility.
On Saturday September 13, 2014, the BLACK fire was approximately 50 acres and actively burning with spotting at ¼ mile. The fuel type was primarily oak woodland intermixed with grasslands and areas of chamise. Two local government Type III engines were operating at a structure (Structure 1) along a ridge with the Division Group Supervisor (DIV C) in a utility. At the same time, a CAL FIRE engine had staged next to a separate structure (Structure 2) approximately 100 yards to the south along the same ridge within DIV C.
At approximately 1625 hours, the fire made a rapid, upslope run through a large area of chamise and manzanita located below the road that accessed the structures. All of the structures along the ridge were threatened. Structure 1 ignited and the residential propane tank began to vent. DIV C determined personnel couldn’t safely take refuge in the structure or the fire apparatus. Ultimately it was determined the apparatus couldn’t be moved quickly enough to ensure a safe exit and all personnel at the structure exited the area on foot to a Temporary Refuge Area.
During this increased fire activity a CAL FIRE engine crew took refuge in Structure 2. When the fire front passed, all personnel exited the structure and drove from the fire area. There was minor damage to the state engine.