Injury burnover in Kentucky

UPDATE: Zach Garland, the state firefighter injured Thursday on a Kentucky wildfire, is now in stable condition at the burn center in Huntington, West Virginia. On April 25 the Pike County 2 Crew was working a wildfire when the fire shifted; Zach was trapped and burned and critically injured. He was building fireline when fire cut off his escape route. Crew members immediately called for EMS; Zach was flown to the burn center at Huntington, where he is in good spirits. Though he is medically stable, he faces a very long road to recovery; Zach suffered second- and third-degree burns to his face, arms, hands, and knees.

Zach Garland in the burn center at Huntington, West Virginia
Zach Garland in the burn center at Huntington, West Virginia
His friend and co-worker Trey Beam has started a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses. “Zach was protecting our Kentucky land,” writes Trey, “as well as wild horses, homes, and civilians. Zach is a dad to two young children, the youngest of whom was born on the day after Zach was injured. We are requesting contributions of any size, to assist with out-of-pocket expenses for medical bills, travel, lodging, and Zach’s lost wages. Zach and his family face a very long road ahead.”
Zach Garland’s GoFundMe page is here:
gofundme.com/f/zach-garland-and-family-recovery
Update: Generous people like you have chipped in over $7600 toward
Zach’s unexpected expenses. If you have another $20 in your pocket, he
and his wife need it more than you do — and May the 4th be with you.

Zach Garland, Kentucky
Kentucky firefighters Teena Dunn and Zach Garland.

PUBLISHED 27. APRIL 2024 — On Thursday about a mile south of Stopover in Pike County, Kentucky, the Blankenship Hollow Fire early in the afternoon injured a firefighter in a burnover incident. A structure fire in Blankenship Hollow escaped into the woodland and was reported to the Hazard Branch forestry office; volunteer fire departments at the incident requested a forestry crew to assist. The Forest Ranger IC type 5 and a Pike County crew were dispatched just before 2 p.m. and arrived at 3 p.m.

Kentucky fires
Kentucky fires
Zach Garland running firing on burn out operations.
Zach Garland running firing on a burnout operation.

Initial size-up from the IC was 10 acres burning in timber with an uphill run and high spread potential.

The IC reported that several additional structures near the fire would be their initial focus.

About 45 minutes later with structure protection completed, the IC and the crew hiked up the mountain to engage the head of the fire directly. They said they had active behavior with short-range spotting and decided to wait for a break before engaging.

Blower line on the Blankenship Hollow Fire near the site of shelter deployment.
Blower line on the Blankenship Hollow Fire near the site of shelter deployment. The area is hardwood leaf litter — as was 90 percent of the burn area. The area around the deployment zone was 60-100 ft hardwood with 3-12 ft beech, maple, and mountain laurel understory.

At 5:15 the IC reported a break in fire behavior and they re-engaged with  direct handline construction. Firefighters began building line down both flanks and at 5:55 IC reported that a firefighter had become trapped by a spot fire, cutting him off. He said he was deploying a shelter; 3 minutes later the IC reached the crew member and began a medical assessment. Kentucky State Police out of Pikeville was contacted by dispatch; they sent EMS units and requested a life-flight medical helicopter be held on standby.

Zach and his Kentucky Division of Forestry crewmembers.
Kentucky Division of Forestry Pike 2 Crew — Zach Garland is third from left.

The IC and the fire crew were able to assist the injured firefighter, who walked mainly under his own power off the mountain to the waiting ambulance, where EMTs decided to request helicopter transport to the burn unit at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, West Virginia. There were no reports of other injuries.

The burned firefighter is in stable condition at the burn center this evening and is in good spirits. He endured burns on the hands, knees, and face; there will be a 72-hour followup report.

A statewide burn ban is in effect through the end of this month.

 

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2 thoughts on “Injury burnover in Kentucky”

  1. We all pray for a speedy recovery for the firefighter involved, this kind of injury incident is also unsettling for the IC and others on scene!

    An early season fire always has its challenges of getting staff back in the groove and keeping all we teach in the forefront of our minds after a period of low activity. It appears the VFD did the best thing by requesting help early, those in wildfire might not see this (early request) as some departments do not comprehend the complexity of the situation. Get to know your local fire agency!

    Best wishes, anxious to see the 72 hour report!

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