Report on dozer rollover on the Carr Fire in Northern California

CAL FIRE has released a “Green Sheet” report on the accident that occurred August 1, 2018

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has released a Green Sheet report about the rollover of a dozer that occurred August 1, 2018 on the Carr Fire west of Redding, California.

Below are excerpts from the 14-page report:

“At approximately 7:00 AM on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, two CWN bulldozers (DOZ1 and DOZ2) were 24 hour resources assigned to Branch III, Division D on the Carr incident. DOZ1’s operator (OP1) had been assigned to the same area on the previous 24-hour operational period (south of HWY 299E on County Line Road) and worked the night shift (7:00 PM to 7:00 AM). OP1 had 4 years of bulldozer operating experience and at least 17 years in the logging industry. OP1 had used the bulldozer extensively in Sonoma and Napa counties in the Fall of 2017.

[…]

“At approximately 12:30 AM, STL1 looked toward DOZ1, located up the spur ridge and observed DOZ1 close to the steeper east aspect of the spur ridge. From STL1’s vantage point, DOZ1 was facing him and appeared to be tilted to the right at approximately 40-45 degrees. STL1 observed DOZ1 attempt to climb back to the center of the spur ridge in reverse. While DOZ1 backed, STL1 further observed the front of DOZ1 abruptly rotated 90 degrees to the left and the front of the dozer lift into the air. DOZ1 then lost traction and slid backwards downhill, at which time STL1 saw DOZ1 roll twice, end over end, before he lost sight of it down the slope. STL1 could hear DOZ1 continue to roll down the slope, and then stop. STL1 went to the edge of the slope where DOZ1 left the ridgetop, and could see DOZ1 approximately 300 feet downslope.

“At approximately 12:32 AM, STL1 notified Branch II (t) of the accident and his intention to proceed to DOZ1 to ascertain injuries and needs. STL1 contacted DOZ2 to cease operations and then proceeded to DOZ1’s location. Branch II Safety Officer and Division C Fireline Medics responded to the accident site. Carr Communications was notified of the accident at 12:34 AM by Branch II (t).

“While walking downslope to DOZ1, STL1 heard the engine speed fluctuating up and down. STL1 found the dozer upright on its tracks with the cab still intact. STL1 observed movement inside the bulldozer cab. DOZ1 appeared to be stable and STL1 boarded the dozer on the uphill (right) side. The right cab door was jammed and would only open a couple of inches. STL1 contacted OP1 and did a quick visual assessment. OP1 suffered injuries to the head but was alert and oriented.

“At approximately 12:35 AM, STL1 updated Branch II (t) of OP1’s condition via radio. Branch II (t) advised STL1 to follow the “Incident Within an Incident” protocol in the Incident Action Plan. OP1 self-extricated through the left cab door. With OP1 sitting on the ground, STL1 performed a thorough secondary patient assessment. A night hoist capable helicopter was requested due to mechanism of injury, patient location, and extended ground transport time to a medical facility. A California National Guard night vision equipped 24-hour helicopter medivac resource, assigned to the incident, responded from Redding Helibase and an Advanced Life Support ground ambulance was dispatched to Hwy 299E and County Line Road (Buckhorn Summit) from their staging area in west Redding.

“Division C Fireline Medics arrived at the accident site at 1:35 AM. Due to a heavy smoke inversion, the helicopter experienced difficulty accessing the accident site and at 2:01 AM, Division C Medics cancelled the helicopter and walked OP1 out to meet the ground ambulance. OP1 was transferred to the ALS ambulance at 2:43 AM and began transport to Mercy Medical Center with a 2-hour estimated time of arrival…”

Carr Fire Dozer Rollover California
The rollover path of the dozer accident on the Carr Fire, August 1, 2018. Image from the CAL FIRE Green Sheet.

Rollover of a trailer loaded with a dozer on Cougar Creek Fire

Above: A trailer loaded with a D-5 dozer rolled over on the Cougar Creek Fire in Idaho August 10, 2018. Incident Management Team photo.

(Updated at 8:55 a.m. PDT September 6, 2018)

A trailer loaded with a Caterpillar D-5H dozer rolled over while it was being relocated on the Cougar Creek Fire about 26 miles west of Chelan, Washington. A Peterbilt dump truck was pulling the triple-axle transport trailer as it travelled downhill on USFS Road 5700 near Pine Flats Campground.

About halfway down the grade the driver said the brakes failed on both the truck and the trailer. As the speed increased on the curvy one-lane road the driver attempted to slow down by driving off the edge of the road in soft dirt. After negotiating several curves the trailer climbed up a bank causing it to tip over onto its side. The truck and the trailer came to a stop on the road.

The report we saw did not indicate that the truck rolled over, but it had damage to the front end, bumper, headlights, and the rear trailer hitch. On the trailer the hitch was damaged and three tires were punctured. There was some damage to the dozer but the driver was not injured.

The preliminary report suggested to prevent similar accidents drivers should use lower gears and slower speeds when driving downhill to reduce overheating the brakes.

The accident occurred at 4:10 p.m. on August 10. We have an unconfirmed report that approximately 200 contractors and agency personnel were trapped due to the blocked road and had to remain without logistical support overnight at a drop point which did not qualify as a safety zone.  When the Rapid Lesson Sharing team arrived the next day at least some of the personnel refused to speak to them about the incident.

(This article was revised to clarify that the incident occurred on the Cougar Creek Fire, rather than the Cougar Fire.)

Dozer rollover on Holy Fire in SoCal

The operator was wearing a seat belt and was not injured. It happened August 12, 2018.

Dozer rollover, Holy Fire, 8-12-2018
Dozer rollover, Holy Fire, 8-12-2018.

A dozer rolled over while constructing fireline on the Holy Fire in Southern California on August 12, 2018. Below is the text from the Rapid Lesson Sharing report:


Narrative
This day, August 12, was hot. I was part way through my shift as a dozer operator. My assignment for the day was putting in another blade of dozer line across the ridge and along the black in my Division. This was my second day working this piece of the line.

The terrain was rocky and steep. I was using the dozer to sidehill along the black. Due to dusty conditions working the dozer, visibility was marginal.

Around noon, I was working on a section of line that had a brush pile I was clearing out. The brush was pretty thick. I therefore didn’t realize that I was about to roll up onto a large boulder that was hidden under the brush pile.

Rolling up on this boulder made the dozer tip over on its side. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. There was no violent bounce. I was wearing my seatbelt which kept me in the cab during the rollover. I was able to remove myself from the cab. I realized that I had no injuries from this incident.

A Dozer Strike Team was able to upright my dozer back onto its track. Ground Support inspected the dozer and found no damage.

Lessons

  • Use a swamper to scout for possible hazards ahead of dozer line construction.
  • When operating a dozer, don’t feel pressured to stay directly against the black when a “safer line” may pull away from the black for a little ways.

Firefighter fatality on the Ferguson Fire west of Yosemite National Park in California

We regret to have to report that a firefighter died this morning, July 14, on the Ferguson Fire west of Yosemite National Park. CAL FIRE announced this afternoon that Heavy Fire Equipment Operator Braden Varney was tragically killed while battling the fire. Mr Varney leaves behind a wife and two small children.

One of the firefighters on the fire reported this morning that he thought there was a dozer rollover, and just in case, he wanted to get medical help started to the scene. It turned out that the dozer had rolled several times and ended up in a location that was very difficult to access by foot or see from an aircraft.

(To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Ferguson Fire, including the most recent, click here.)

Just after 1 p.m. local time CAL FIRE made the official announcement about the fatality.

We send out our sincere condolences to Mr. Varney’s family, coworkers, and friends.Varney fatality

Tree falling on dozer starts fire in Colorado

Above: Air Tanker 02, a BAe-146, makes a drop on the Mill Creek Fire. Screen shot from the Joel Reichenberger video below.

(Originally published t 9:34 a.m. MDT July 2, 2017)

The Mill Creek Fire in Colorado started Saturday when a tree fell on a bulldozer that was working in the area, according to a spokesperson from the West Routt Fire Protection District. The dozer was destroyed as the blaze spread northwest of Pilot Knob near Routt County Road 80.

The fire is 13 miles northeast of Hayden and 20 miles northwest of Steamboat Springs.

Map Mill Creek Fire Colorado
Map showing the location of the Mill Creek Fire at 3:24 a.m. MDT July 2, 2017.

As of Saturday night 116 acres had burned. Steamboat Today reported that two hotshot crews will be assigned on Sunday.

CAL FIRE and contractor cited by OSHA after 2016 dozer rollover fatality

dozer rollover fatality
The dozer that rolled over on the Soberanes Fire in 2016, killing Robert Reagan. CAL FIRE photo.

Both a private contractor and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) were issued citations by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) related to a fatality when a dozer rolled over. Robert Reagan, 35, of Friant, California, was killed while fighting the Soberanes Fire south of Monterey, California July 26, 2016.

Minutes after Mr. Reagan began operating the piece of equipment for Czirban Concrete Construction on contract to CAL FIRE, it rolled over. Not wearing a seat belt, he was thrown from the cab and was killed when the dozer rolled onto him.

According to KQED news, Cal/OSHA issued five citations to Czirban totaling $20,000. The largest was $13,500 for not wearing a seat belt.

Czirban had not secured workers’ compensation insurance for Mr. Reagan as required, and had been cited eight times in four years by the Contractors State License Board, several times because of worker’s compensation issues.

Below is an excerpt from an article at KQED in which they point out a number of problems related to contractors working on wildfires:

Cal/OSHA also issued two citations to Cal Fire, one for failing to report a serious injury within eight hours and another for failing to maintain an effective injury and illness prevention program.

“The employer failed to ensure a supervisor was in the immediate area during all bulldozer activities,” Cal/OSHA compliance officer Kelly Tatum wrote in the agency’s citation.

Cal Fire, which also faces a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Reagan’s wife and two young daughters, has appealed the findings.

wildfire dozer
File photo of a dozer in South Dakota.