Tuesday morning September 11 at about 5:45 a.m., Antonio (Tony) Flores 37, an employee of Kent Siller Trucking, was involved in a fatal vehicle accident on Interstate 80 near Blue Canyon, California between Sacramento and Reno. Mr. Flores was assigned to the North Fire as a private contractor operating a bulldozer. He was driving to the incident command post at the Blue Canyon Airport.
Incident Commander Curtis Coots said that the personnel working on the North Fire are deeply saddened by the death of a fellow firefighter. “This has been an extremely tough fire season for our firefighters both physically and emotionally”, Mr. coots said.
Mr. Flores is survived by his wife of 18 years and four children, ranging in ages from 9 to 16 years old. He is a lifelong resident of the Yuba City area.
He has worked for Kent Siller Trucking for more than 20 years as a master mechanic and heavy equipment operator.
The cause of the accident is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol and the Placer County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office.
Since it started September 3 the North Fire has burned 1,120 acres nine miles northeast of Alta, Calif. It has not grown in the last 24 hours and will transition back to the local unit today, September 12.
Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Flores’ family, friends, and co-workers.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
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…”
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.)
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.
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.
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.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has released a “Green Sheet” preliminary report on an incident within an incident that occurred on the Pleasant Fire north of Nevada City, California August 30, 2017.
About half an hour after beginning work constructing fireline downhill, increasing fire activity forced a contractor-owned dozer to disengage. The operator walked the machine through unburned vegetation to a small cleared area near a greenhouse but after arriving, a burst hydraulic line leaked fluid which ignited, producing smoke and flames in the cab. He attempted to extinguish this new fire with an extinguisher, but failed, then exited the dozer and deployed a fire shelter as the main fire approached.
For about an hour no one on the fire knew where the dozer and operator were, in spite of numerous attempts on the radio to contact him and aerial searches by Air Attack and a helicopter. After an hour the operator used his hand-held radio to announce that the dozer sustained a hydraulic failure and he deployed a shelter, but he was unable to describe his location. Eight minutes later a helicopter spotted him and led ground personnel to the scene.
The operator complained of coughing, dizziness, and weakness. After being assessed by medical personnel, he walked downhill to an ALS ambulance for transport to a local hospital where he was treated and released.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.