Five firefighters in Australia entrapped, with three suffering burns

Two of them were airlifted to a hospital

map fires Australia December 19
The red dots represent heat detected on bushfires by a satellite at 1740Z December 19, 2019. NASA.

In addition to the rollover of a fire truck on December 19 in New South Wales that killed two firefighters and injured three, in a separate incident the same day five firefighters were entrapped by fire, injuring three firefighters. Two males, age 36 and 56, were airlifted to a hospital after suffering face, airway, and other burns.

“Given the serious potential for airway burns, the advice is… they’ll be intubated,” said New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons

A third person, a 28-year-old female, was transported by ground ambulance after suffering smoke inhalation and less severe burns.

Both incidents occurred on the Green Wattle Creek Bushfire in the Lake Burragorang area. The fire is more than 176,000 hectares (435,000 acres) in size and is out of control.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Karl. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Firefighters killed in New South Wales identified

They were members of the Horsley Park Brigade

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) has identified the two volunteer firefighters that were killed December 19 while working on the Green Wattle Creek Bushfire near Buxton in southwestern Sydney.

Firefighter Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, joined the Service in 2003, and is a member of the Horsley Park Rural Fire Brigade.

Andrew O'Dwyer firefighter killed
Andrew O’Dwyer with his daughter Charlotte.

Firefighter Geoffrey Keaton, 32, joined the Service in 2006 and is a Deputy Captain of Horsley Park Rural Fire Brigade, and a former member of Plumpton Brigade.

Geoffrey Keaton firefighter killed
Geoffrey Keaton and his son Harvey.

A spokesperson for the the NSW RFS said, “That tree came down in front of that truck, the truck impacted that tree and then rolled resulting in fatalities to two of our firefighters.”

The incident occurred just before midnight at the end of a long shift. Both of them, members of the Horsley Park Brigade, were in the front seat of the truck and died at the scene. Three other passengers were injured and treated at the scene by paramedics.

RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said, “They work together, socialize together, they’re very interactive together. Their respective partners and wives shared a lot in common with their camaraderie and connection with the brigade,” he said.

“Geoff has a young son Harvey, and Andrew has a young daughter Charlotte, and both of those children were born two days apart back in May so they’re 19 months of age, which is just terrible.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said: “I don’t think you can think of a worse set of circumstances to see two young fathers lose their lives in this way.”

On the night of Mr. Keaton’s death, his father John was fighting a a very large fire in Gospers Mountain northwest of Sydney, while his son was at the Green Wattle Creek Fire.

Andrew O'Dwyer fire truck
Andrew O’Dwyer (far left) is seen with colleagues in front of the truck he was riding in at the time of the accident.

The NSW RFS has created a dedicated bank account to collect donations for the families.

Two firefighters in Australia killed when their truck hits tree and rolls

Two New South Wales Rural Fire Service volunteers have died and three other firefighters were injured

NSW RFS engine truck rollover lodd
It is believed the NSW RFS truck (not pictured) hit a tree before rolling off the road. NSW RFS photo.

Authorities said the truck was traveling as part of a convoy when it is believed to have hit a tree on Wilson Drive in Buxton, before rolling off the road about 11:30pm. (map)

The driver and front passenger both died at the scene. Three other passengers were injured and treated at the scene by paramedics.

It happened December 19 near the Green Wattle Creek Fire near Buxton in southwestern Sydney, one of two bushfires still burning at emergency level through Thursday night.

A crime scene has been established, and an investigation has been launched into the circumstances surrounding the crash.

(From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Our sincere condolences go out to the firefighters’ friends, family, and coworkers.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

TBT – Waldo Canyon Fire

Waldo Canyon Fire
Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Springs, CO, July 1, 2012; burn operation in Division Oscar-Papa (below Blodgett Peak) with Vandenberg Hotshots. USFS photo by Kari Greer.

Throwback Thursday –
On June 23, 2012 the Waldo Canyon Fire started in the Pike National Forest southwest of Colorado Springs, Colorado. On June 26 it spread into the Mountain Shadows area of the city. Before the fire was out, it had killed two people and burned 18,000 acres and 347 homes.

Waldo Canyon Fire
Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Springs, CO, July, 2012; Mountain Shadows aftermath. USFS photo by Kari Greer.
Waldo Canyon Fire President Obama
The President at the Waldo Fire Incident Command Post, June 29, 2012. USFS photo by Kari Greer.

Video: how the fire tornado formed at the Carr Fire

formation fire tornado Carr Fire
Early stage in the formation of the fire tornado at the Carr Fire, July 26, 2018. Screenshot from Scientific American video below.

Scientific American has produced a video that describes the formation of the fire tornado that burned and scoured a mile-long path as the Carr Fire burned into Redding, California July 26, 2018.

In the video below, click on the little square at bottom-right to see it in full screen.

There were two fatalities on the Carr Fire that day. Redding Fire Department Inspector Jeremy Stoke was burned over in his truck on Buenaventura Boulevard. On the other side of the Sacramento River, on the west side, Don Ray Smith was entrapped and killed in his dozer.

According to a Green Sheet report by CAL FIRE, the conditions that resulted in the entrapment of three dozers and the Redding Fire Department Fire Inspector that day were due to the fire tornado — a large rotating fire plume that was roughly 1,000 feet in diameter. The winds at the base were 136-165 mph (EF-3 tornado strength), as indicated by wind damage to large oak trees, scouring of the ground surface, damage to roofs of houses, and lofting of large steel power line support towers, vehicles, and a steel marine shipping container. Multiple fire vehicles had their windows blown out and their bodies damaged by flying debris.

The strong winds caused the fire to burn all live vegetation less than 1 inch in diameter. Peak temperatures likely exceeded 2,700 °F.

The Carr Fire burned 229,651 acres, destroyed 1,077 homes, and killed 3 firefighters and 5 civilians

The news media sometimes calls any little fire whirl a “fire tornado”, or even a “firenado”. These and related terms (except for “firenado”) were, if not founded, at least documented and defined in 1978 by a researcher for the National Weather Service in Missoula, David W. Goens. He grouped fire whirls into four classes:

  1. Fire Devils. They are a natural part of fire turbulence with little influence on fire behavior or spread. They are usually on the order of 3 to 33 feet in diameter and have rotational velocities less than 22 MPH.
  2. Fire Whirls. A meld of the fire, topograph, and meteorological factors. These play a significant role in fire spread and hazard to control personnel. The average size of this class is usually 33 to 100 feet, with rotational velocities of 22 to 67 MPH.
  3. Fire Tornadoes. These systems begin to dominate the large scale fire dynamics. They lead to extreme hazard and control problems. In size, they average 100 to 1,000 feet in diameter and have rotational velocities up to 90 MPH.
  4. Fire Storm. Fire behavior is extremely violent. Diameters have been observed to be from 1,000 to 10,000 feet and winds estimated in excess of 110 MPH. This is a rare phenomenon and hopefully one that is so unlikely in the forest environment that it can be disregarded.”

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Rick. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

“It smells like it’s time to go to work”

Said one of the American firefighters as they landed in smoky Sydney, Australia

Firefighting personnel from U.S. arrive in Australia
Firefighting personnel from the U.S. arrive in Australia, December 7, 2019. NSW RFS photo.

The 42 firefighting personnel from Canada and the United States have arrived in Australia. Each country sent 21 fire supervision and aviation specialists who will assist with suppressing the fires that have been burning in nearly unprecedented numbers over the last several weeks. There is no long term relief in sight since the Australian summer is just starting.

The Sydney Morning Herald has an interesting article about the Americans being incorporated into the New South Wales fire culture. Check out their very interesting article and the photos. Here is an excerpt:

As the first ever deployment of American firefighters made the descent into Sydney from the United States on Saturday morning, the bushfire smoke cloaking the city for the past week filled the aircraft cabin. For firefighting aviation specialist Michelle Moore, from Idaho, the smell wasn’t alarming.

“I understand it’s pretty traumatic for you guys, but it’s something we deal with – it’s our comfort zone,” she said. “It smells like it’s time to go to work.”

The group is spending Sunday in briefings before heading out on Monday to locations including the “mega fire” around Gospers Mountain that stretches from the Hawkesbury into the Hunter and Central Coast regions, and the Currowan fire north of Batemans Bay on the South Coast.

Inside the briefing notes on Sunday was the important lesson of getting familiar with Australia’s spiders and snakes. Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said the Australian accent will probably also take some getting used to.

Firefighters from Canada arrive Australia
Firefighters from Canada arrive in Australia. Photo by NSW RFS December 5, 2019.