Fire captain and 15 inmate firefighters injured in crew carrier crash

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From the Press-Enterprise:

10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

A bus filled with Riverside County firefighter inmates toppled in Aguanga on Monday night, injuring all 16 on board, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The Riverside County Fire Department bus was leaving the scene of a 20-acre blaze about 7:30 p.m. near Highway 371 and Wilson Valley Road. The Oak Glen Conservation Fire Camp inmate crew was brought in during cleanup efforts to assist firefighters, Riverside County fire officials said.

The driver, fire Capt. Steve Knutson, was headed west on Wilson Valley Road when he began driving down a speed grade, CHP Officer Ron Thatcher said.

He was going too fast and tried unsuccessfully to shift gears, Thatcher said. The bus ran up a dirt embankment and flipped on its right side.

The fire captain suffered moderate injuries and was taken by ambulance to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, Thatcher said.

Two inmates were critically injured and one was airlifted to Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley.

Another inmate was reported with moderate injuries and 12 other inmates who suffered minor injuries were treated at the scene, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

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