Three Wisconsin firefighters injured on wildfire

From the River Falls Journal in Wisconsin.

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WAVERLY — One Elmwood firefighter was airlifted to Regions Hospital Wednesday evening and two others were transported to River Falls Area Hospital after several men were overcome by smoke while fighting a rural grass fire in eastern Pierce County.

Firefighter Tom Joyce, 38, remained hospitalized at Regions Thursday morning. His condition wasn’t available.

Fellow firefighters Jeremy Link and Travis Bemis were treated for smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion at River Falls and later released, according to Neil Gulbranson, a captain with the sheriff’s department.

Elmwood fire chief Mike Shields said two others were also affected by smoke but didn’t require medical transport.

Pierce authorities first received word from the pilot of a passing aircraft of a possible grass fire in the vicinity of 450th Avenue near CTH CC. The area is about a mile west of Nugget Lake County Park.

A deputy was sent to investigate and Elmwood firefighters were dispatched a short time later when a large grass fire was confirmed. Firefighters and all available ambulances from Ellsworth and Spring Valley were later called out to provide mutual aid.

About 20 minutes after arriving, an Elmwood fire officer notified Pierce dispatch that a firefighter was suffering respiratory distress and a paramedic from the Ellsworth Area Ambulance Service was requested to intercept the ambulance to assist the patient.

Joyce was transported to Ellsworth for relay to a medical helicopter, which landed at the highway shop about 7:55 p.m.

Gulbranson said the cause of the fire was unknown.

Shields confirmed those details with a Herald reporter Thursday morning. He said the fire was contained to about 20 acres. He said 20 firefighters from Elmwood responded along with 17 from Spring Valley and 5 from Ellsworth.

Besides three taken to hospital, two others were affected but not transported.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

3 thoughts on “Three Wisconsin firefighters injured on wildfire”

  1. Forgive me for playing the devil’s advocate here, but I’m assuming they weren’t wearing respirators? hence the problem of smoke inhalation? I carry both the light Respro filters and the Whiffs for heavy duty use- weren’t they equipped with them? and if not, why not? it’s cheap insurance- fires do put out smoke after all. having said all that, I hope they recover okay- and next time, guys, carry a respirator- please.

    1. I am not aware of any respirators that are practical for a wildland firefighter to wear that can filter out the pm2.5 particles, carbon monoxide, and other poisonous gasses without too severely restricting a person’s breathing.

  2. I’ve never had any problems using the Whiffs filter masks- granted, it makes breathing a bit more laborious, but breathing smoke does too, and considering both the short and long term consequences of inhaling smoke, I’ll take my chances with the minor inconvenience using a filter mask.

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