Bear falls on Sheriff’s vehicle causing crash and fire

falling bear vehicle crash fire
A bear fell onto a Humboldt County Sheriff’s patrol vehicle causing a crash followed by a fire. Photo: Hoopa Fire Department and Office of Emergency Services

We have written about animals causing fires a number of times, but this situation is unique.

On August 3 in Northern California a Humboldt County sheriff’s deputy was responding on Highway 96 to a report of an overdose when the patrol vehicle crashed, burned, and started a small vegetation fire that was suppressed after blackening half an acre.

It took several days for the surprising cause of the accident to be revealed.

On August 7 Caltrans reported that the deputy’s vehicle was struck by a bear that fell off an embankment. Thankfully the officer escaped the vehicle without serious injury. The bear fled the scene, refusing treatment.

falling bear vehicle crash fire
A bear fell onto a Humboldt County Sheriff’s patrol vehicle causing a crash followed by a fire. Photo: Hoopa Fire Department and Office of Emergency Services

Bear bites sleeping firefighter

grizzly bear
File image of a grizzly bear in Denali National Park. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Tuesday night a bear bit a sleeping firefighter who was trying to get some rest between shifts while assigned to a wildfire near McCall, Idaho. The firefighter was taken to the hospital, treated for minor wounds and released, then he returned to work, according to Forest Service officials.

A bear believed to be the perp was later trapped and euthanized. Idaho Fish and Game will check to see if DNA from the bear matches saliva the animal left on the firefighter’s small tent, known as a bivvy sack that he was sleeping in when the bite occurred. However, it’s uncertain whether there will be enough DNA on the bivvy sack to get a match.

Fish and Game had reports of a bear in the area raiding garages and causing property damage. Agency personnel had set a trap prior to the bear biting the firefighter, but hadn’t been able to catch it.

In June, 2015 a firefighter working on the Juneau Lake Fire in the Chugach National Forest in Alaska sustained minor injuries in a bear encounter. The firefighter was transported by a life med helicopter from the remote Juneau Lake site (map) to a hospital in Anchorage. The firefighter walked from the encounter site to the helicopter and was treated at the hospital for animal bites.

In 2008 a firefighter working on the LeHardy fire in Yellowstone National Park received some minor injuries from an encounter with a grizzly bear which may have been trying to leave the fire area but the firefighter was unknowingly in its path. The firefighter was treated and released at the Yellowstone Clinic.

Firefighter injured in bear attack

Juneau Lake map

A firefighter working on the Juneau Lake Fire in the Chugach National Forest in Alaska sustained minor injuries in a bear encounter on June 22. The firefighter was transported by a life med helicopter from the remote Juneau Lake site (map) to a hospital in Anchorage, about 42 miles away by air. It would have been much longer if ground transportation had been used.

The firefighter walked from the encounter site to the helicopter and is undergoing standard treatment for animal bites.

Notification of any injury on a wildfire engages emergency response protocols.  The Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4 implemented its “incident within an incident” practices to deliver timely aid to the firefighter.

Below is a portion of a report on the Juneau Lake Fire from InciWeb:

An incident management team from Oregon assumed command of the Stetson Creek and Juneau Lake fires on June 19, 2015. The Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4 (ORIIMT4), Brian Goff, incident commander, and a team of nine are stationed in Cooper Landing.

Firefighters assisting with suppression efforts include the Alaska Midnight Sun Hotshots and three Type 2 crews from National Forests in Montana: the Lolo, Bitterroot, and Beaverhead/Deer Lodge.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Chris.

Firefighter "roughed up" by grizzly bear

One of the firefighters working on the LeHardy fire in Yellowstone National Park on Sunday received some injuries from an encounter with a grizzly bear. According to the park:

A firefighter working on the fire received minor injuries when he was briefly roughed up by a frightened grizzly bear. The bear, acting instinctually, appeared to be trying to leave the fire area and the firefighter was unknowingly in its path. He was treated and released at the Yellowstone Clinic.

In other news about the fire on Sunday:

Firefighters on the LeHardy Fire made good progress in their efforts to create a wider fire line between the southern flank of the fire and Fishing Bridge.

Visitors could see large smoke plumes as crews conducted burn out operations to clear unburned fuels and optimize fire breaks. Cooler temperatures and slightly higher humidity aided in the progress.

Structure fire specialists arrived today to set up protection equipment in Fishing Bridge. The equipment will be kept on hand as a precautionary measure at both the sewage treatment area and in the retail areas.