Bald Angel engine rollover

A facilitated learning analysis has been released on an engine rollover that occurred in September on the Bald Angel prescribed fire on the Wallowa Whitman National Forest near La Grande, Oregon. The entire report is HERE, but below is an excerpt from the executive summary:

The assigned resources set out that morning to the slop over to find a fairly active flank that required attention from two engines. The two engines began securing the perimeter of the slop over with saw line, hand line, and a hose lay. The first engine that was serving as a pumping platform ran out of water and was replaced by the second engine. The first engine then proceeded to the Balm Creek Reservoir to scout access to a fill-site. The Balm Creek Reservoir had not been used or scouted since earlier in the fire season. The first fire engine arrived at the reservoir and found difficult access to the water’s edge due to late season drawdown. The engine slowly drove the bank looking for accessibility to the water’s edge when the engine became stuck in a soft spot. The engine operator worked on trying to regain traction by attempting to engage the engine into four wheel drive, and digging trenches behind the front tires. When in reverse, the engine suddenly regained traction, jolted back and to the left resulting in the rear wheels sliding towards the reservoir. The engine rolled over into the reservoir in approximately four feet of water coming to rest on its passenger side and roof. The driver escaped through the driver’s side window after the cab filled with water.

The driver suffered a few bumps and bruises and was transported to the Grande Ronde hospital in La Grande, OR by agency personnel. The driver is currently back to work and is expected to make a full recovery.

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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.