Firefighter collapses, dies during first day of training

Anthony Colacino, 33, died
Anthony Colacino, 33, died during physical training April 21, 2018.

An inmate firefighter collapsed and died during physical training near Jamestown, California April 21. For Anthony Colacino it was his first day as a trainee firefighter on the Sierra Conservation Center fire crew. Just before 8 a.m., about 50 minutes into a one-hour training hike, Mr. Colacino collapsed.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the LA Times:

The on-duty fire captain, along with four other inmate firefighters, took Colacino to the center’s firehouse, where they tried to save him by doing CPR in the vehicle and at the facility until an ambulance arrived, said Krissi Khokhobashvili, a corrections spokeswoman. “Those inmate firefighters, they jumped into action,” she said. “They did what they’re supposed to do.”

Colacino — who had served more than a year of a four-year, four-month sentence out of Riverside County for two counts of evading a peace officer while driving recklessly, cruelty to animals and discharging a firearm with gross negligence — was pronounced dead soon after. Officials said foul play is not suspected in his death, but the Tuolumne County coroner will determine the cause of death.

Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Colacino’s friends, family, and coworkers.

At least two other very serious life-threatening injuries have occured to wildland firefighters in recent years during day one or two of physical training. They occurred in 2016 in South Dakota and the Northwest.

One was a Rhabdomyolysis (Rhabdo) injury after running for more than nine miles and doing uphill sprints on the first day.

The other was a heat stroke near the end of a seven-mile run on day two of their season. The employee was unconscious for several hours and spent four days in the hospital.

We are aware of five other California inmate line of duty fatalities in the last seven years:

  • January 4, 2012: Crisanto Leo Lionell, 54, was participating in a training exercise at the California National Guard’s Camp San Luis when he lost consciousness and later passed away.
  • August 19, 2012: Jimmy Randolf, 44, died seven hours after he was found unresponsive where he was sleeping at the Buck Fire. The cause of death was listed as anoxic encephalopathy combined with complications of heat stroke.
  • February 25, 2016: Shawna Lynn Jones, 22, died from major head injuries after being struck by a rolling boulder while fighting the Mulholland Fire near Malibu.
  • May 24, 2017: Matthew Beck, 26, was working on a county roads project with a crew in the Hoopa area. He suffered major head, neck and back injuries when a 120-foot tall tree uprooted and fell on him. He died before life-flight crews were able to reach him.
  • July 11, 2017: Frank Anaya, 22, was throwing cut brush during line construction operations on a fire near Lakeside when he lost his balance and fell into a running chainsaw. He suffered a severe cut to his upper right leg behind his chaps and succumbed to his injuries July 11, 2017.

California firefighter dies after suffering chain saw injury

Frank Anaya
Frank Anaya

A California firefighter died July 11 in a hospital from injuries he suffered July 5 while fighting a wildfire near Lakeside in Southern California.

Frank Anaya, an inmate firefighter with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation based at the La Cima Conservation Camp, was throwing cut brush during line construction operations when he lost his balance and fell into a running chainsaw. He suffered a severe cut to his upper right leg behind his chaps.

The 22-year old firefighter underwent multiple surgeries, but succumbed to his injuries July 11, 2017, according to the CDCR.

Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Anaya’s friends, family, and coworkers.

Other California inmate firefighter fatalities that we are aware of in the last six years:

  • January 4, 2012. Crisanto Leo Lionell. Heart attack near the conclusion of a 20-minute, .66 mile exercise hike.
  • August 19, 2012. Jimmy Randolph. Anoxic encephalopathy combined with complications of heat stroke while assigned to the Buck Fire.
  • February 25, 2016. Shawna Lynn Jones. Struck by rolling boulder while working on the Mulholland Fire  .
  • May 24, 2017. Matthew Beck. Struck by falling tree while doing project work with his crew.

Edited July 14, 2017 to reflect new information in the Green Sheet. The victim was not running the chainsaw, but was swamping for it (throwing the cut brush).

More details released about the May 24 inmate fatality in California

Above: The top of the tree that struck Matthew Beck on May 24, 2017. CAL FIRE photo.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has released a few more details about the accident that killed a California inmate firefighter in Humboldt County on May 24. As disclosed earlier, Matthew Beck died after being struck by a falling tree.

Now we know that the tree had been previously identified as being hazardous but it was thought to be outside the work area.

Alder Crew #4 was working on Ishi Pishi Road towards Somes Bar picking up piles of limbs and brush from the previous two days of work to feed into a chipper. The machine was running at full throttle when the crew supervisor saw the tree falling and yelled a warning, which was not heard by the entire crew due to the noise from the chipper.

The supervisor attempted to call the Fortuna Emergency Communications Center on his hand held radio but could not make contact. He got in the crew carrier truck and drove about 400 yards to a location from which he could talk to the ECC with the vehicle’s mobile radio.

Mr. Beck received a fatal blow from the tree causing blunt force trauma to the head, neck, and torso.

The tree was a 105-year-old, 146-foot Douglas-fir, with a 21.5-inch diameter (DBH). It weighed approximately 3,000 pounds and had a downhill lean of about 46 degrees. Mr. Beck was hit by a portion of the tree that was about 18 feet from the tree top.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Eric.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

California inmate firefighter killed by falling tree

Matthew Beck firefighter
Matthew Beck. Photo credit: CDCR.

(Revised at 1:13 p.m. MDT May 27, 2017)

The California inmate firefighter in Humboldt County was killed May 24 while working on a county roads project in the northwestern part of the state in Del Norte County.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Matthew Beck, 26, was working with a crew in the Hoopa area. He suffered major head, neck and back injuries when a 120-foot tall tree uprooted and fell on him. He died before life-flight crews were able to reach him.

“We are saddened by the death of Matthew Beck, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” said CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan. “The inmates who year after year help protect our communities from the devastation of fires perform a valuable public service, and it is a tragic event when we lose one of them.”

Mr. Beck, who was assigned to the Alder Conservation Camp in Del Norte County, was serving a six-year sentence for burglary and was due to be parolled in October. He is the fourth inmate firefighter to die on a fire since the conservation program was created in the 1940s.

In February of 2016 another California inmate firefighter, Shawna Lynn Jones, 22, died after being struck by a boulder that rolled down a hill on the Mulholland Fire near Malibu.

Our sincere condolences go out to the friends, family, and coworkers of both firefighters.

This article has been edited to rectify incorrect information initially provided by the CDRC. The firefighter was not working on a fire at the time of the accident.

California inmate firefighter dies of injuries suffered on wildfire near Malibu

Shawna Lynn Jones suffered major head injuries after being struck by a rolling boulder.

Injured inmate hoist helicopter
The inmate firefighter was airlifted after being injured near Malibu on Feb. 25, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)
The California inmate firefighter that was injured February 25 on the Mulholland Fire near Malibu has died, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Friday.

In the early hours of Thursday morning while fighting a wildfire as part of a hand crew, Shawna Lynn Jones, 22, was struck by a boulder that rolled down a hill. She was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center where she was treated for major head injuries. Ms. Jones was removed from life support after her organs were donated, in keeping with her family’s wishes.

Ms. Jones was a Los Angeles County jail inmate who had joined CDCR’s firefighting program in August 2015 and was assigned to the Malibu Camp, which is operated jointly with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Malibu is one of three camps that house a total of 195 female firefighters.

According to the CDCR Ms. Jones is the third inmate firefighter to die on a wildfire since the camp program began in 1943. Female inmates were incorporated into the firefighting program in 1983.

The Mulholland Fire burned about 10 acres and was contained Thursday night.

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

Tuesday morning one-liners

FSPRO analysis of the Hathaway Fire
FSPRO analysis of the Hathaway Fire in southern California, if there was no suppression, June 9, 2013

Data sharing leads to powerful tools for fighting fire.

The U.S. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy have been conducting some prescribed fires near Orleans, California.

In California, the weather this month will determine if a new record will be set for the driest year on record.

A former trombone player continues to be in the news about his effort to improve the fire shelter.

The New York Times has an article about inmate fire crews.

After the county Sheriff has repeatedly publicly criticized how the Fire Chief handled the first two hour of the destructive Black Forest Fire in Colorado Springs, an independent investigator has been called in.

A man whose body was found during a brush fire in Arvin, California in August was murdered, before the suspect tried covering up the crime with a fire.

Protecting archaeological sites from wildfire and extreme weather using a wireless sensor network.

Vail Colorado maps and rates wildfire hazard for all structures.

Thanks go out to Dick, John, Bean, Ken, and Roy.