Burned Australian firefighter continues to fight for her life

Burned engine, Photo credit Department of Environment and Conservation
Burned engine, Photo credit Department of Environment and Conservation
Burned fire engine in Western Australia. Photo credit: Department of Environment and Conservation

The 45-year old Western Australia firefighter that suffered burns when she and another firefighter were entrapped in their fire engine on Friday and overrun by a fire continues to fight for her life in the burn unit at the Royal Perth Hospital. She has burns over 60 percent of her body and is in the intensive care unit, while the 24-year old firefighter that was also entrapped has burns over 40 percent of her body. The 24-year old has been moved out of intensive care and is in stable condition.

According to Western Australia Fire and Emergency Services Authority state duty director Bruce Jones the firefighters were from the Department of Environment and Conservation and the local bushfire brigade. In an October 13 statement Mr. Jones said, “Preliminary reports state that the firefighters were caught when strong winds caused the fire to suddenly change direction on a slope”.

Three other firefighters were also injured and were treated at a hospital in Albany.

Jim Sharp of the Department of Environment and Conservation said the younger firefighter is making progress:

I can say that I did have the opportunity of speaking to the younger officer, who is now in a stable condition. I was able to speak to her and that was encouraging I guess, to me and to others, to at least converse with her.

Brian Pickford, the Emergency Management Co-ordinator said

All firefighters are supplied with what we call PPE, which is protective clothing that is to a large degree fireproof.

Their tankers are also very heavily protected but sometimes the intensity of the heat can truly overcome the safety equipment we provide them.

We had firefighters that were caught in what we call an overrun situation.

I can’t explain too much because that particular part of the fire is under investigation but needless to say they were caught in an extreme and very hot fire area.

The 1,500-hectare (3,706 acres) fire has been controlled. Law enforcement authorities are investigating if the blaze was deliberately lit.

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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.