Firefighter seriously injured on wildfire in Okanogan County, Washington

video Spring Coulee Fire Okanogan County, Washington
The Spring Coulee Fire in Okanogan County, Washington, September 1, 2019. Screenshot from video by Okanogan County Emergency Management.

A firefighter suffered serious burns September 1, 2019 while working on a 142-acre fire near Spring Coulee Road in Okanogan County, Washington.

The information below is from Okanogan County Emergency Management, September 3:


Christian Johnson, Assistant Chief of the Okanogan Volunteer Fire Department, has suffered serious injuries while on the Spring Coulee Fire. He has second and third degree burns over 60% of his body.

Christian is currently in a medically-induced coma at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. They are trying to stabilize him so they can proceed with skin graft surgery. He will be looking at a minimum of 2-3 months in the ICU.

Christian has served his country as a sergeant in the Army, and was deployed with the Washington State National Guard from November 2003- May 2005 in Baghdad. He retired after 22 years of service and has volunteered for the Okanogan Fire Department for 20 years.

Christian is a selfless man, who is always willing to help those in need, and never asks for anything in return. We are now asking for your help to make this long journey a little easier for him and his family. Any amount of donations are greatly appreciated and will go towards helping the family with travel, housing, food, etc.

If anyone would like to make a donation, they may use the GO FUND ME account or make a donation to: Christian Johnson Donation Account at North Cascades Bank, PO Box 672, Okanogan WA 98840.

Christian Johnson
Christian Johnson, Assistant Chief of the Okanogan Volunteer Fire Department. Go Fund Me.

Below: Video of the Spring Coulee Fire in Okanogan County, Washington, September 1, 2019. Okanogan County Emergency Management.

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

Engine burned over on Country Fire east of Auburn, California

Injuries to two firefighters were described as minor

Country Fire Cool, California
Screenshot from KCRA video of the Country Fire east of Cool, California September 3, 2019.

(UPDATED at 1:09 p.m. PDT September 5, 2019)

On September 4 the Garden Valley Fire Protection District released a statement confirming that the burnover incident on the Country Fire involved one of their engines and two of their firefighters.

Here is an excerpt:

The two firefighters were transported to UC Davis Medical Center with minor injuries and released later the same day. The fire engine sustained major damage.

In an article on CBS 13 about the burnover, they quoted a radio transmission,“We have a burn over with shelters deployed. On that also would like one medivac helicopter.”

The same day the Fire District issued that statement, they also reported that the result of a recent election will require them to lay off three of their six firefighters. As the changes are phased in the staffing will be reduced from two firefighters to one, and 66 percent of the time that one firefighter will be a qualified paramedic.


(Originally published at 7:40 a.m. PDT September 4, 2019)

An engine was burned over and two firefighters were injured while battling the Country Fire in Northern California Tuesday, seven air miles east of Auburn. CBS 13 quoted a radio transmission,“We have a burn over with shelters deployed. On that also would like one medivac helicopter.”

Tuesday night CAL FIRE said two firefighters had minor injuries on the fire.

Steve Large, a reporter for CBS 13, said CAL FIRE is launching a “Serious Accident Investigation”.

map Country Fire Cool, California
Map showing the location of the Country Fire east of Cool, California September 3, 2019. Google Earth.

The spread of the fire was stopped after it burned 85 acres. There is a media report that three outbuildings, but no homes, were destroyed.

Country Fire Cool, California
Screenshot from KCRA video of the Country Fire east of Cool, California September 3, 2019.

737 air tanker Country Fire Cool, California
Air Tanker 137, a B-737. Screenshot from KCRA video of the Country Fire east of Cool, California September 3, 2019.

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

Texas volunteer firefighter dies after injuries from March 10 grassfire

A Texas firefighter injured two week ago while working a brushfire has died, officials confirmed.

Firefighter Larry Marusik, a member of Ellinger Volunteer Fire Department, died Friday at Brooke Army Medical Center, according to the Caldwell County Office of Emergency Management. He was 68 years old.

“The Caldwell County Office of Emergency Management offers our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Firefighter Larry Marusik,” officials said. “We also send our profound sympathies to his fellow firefighters in Fayette County, especially the Ellinger VFD.”

Marusik grew up in the community and moved back after he retired, KXAN news reported. He was a member of the fire department for four years.

Additional details about the injuries he suffered or the incident he was working were not immediately available.

Three firefighters suffer burns on Arizona fire

All three are expected to make full recoveries

Three firefighters are recovering from burn injuries they sustained while working on a wildfire in Southwest Arizona over the weekend.

On Friday, March 16 two State Forestry firefighters were burned after falling into an ash pit on the Laguna Fire, 14 miles northeast of Yuma.

One firefighter suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns and was flown to the Arizona Burn Center in Phoenix where he remains in the hospital. The other was treated at a Yuma-area hospital and released.

On Saturday, a third firefighter was injured on the same fire. He suffered minor burns and was also treated at the hospital and released.

Two of the firefighters are part of State Forestry’s Phoenix Crew. The third firefighter is a member of State Department of Corrections’ Yuma Crew.

“Firefighter safety is our number one priority at all times. The accidents are currently under review and being investigated by the department. We ask that you please keep all of our firefighters in your thoughts,” said State Forester Jeff Whitney.

All three are expected to make full recoveries.

The 15-acre Laguna Fire started Thursday, March 15th and the cause is under investigation.

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

Two firefighters injured on prescribed fire in Texas

Borger Fire Department TexasTwo firefighters suffered burn injuries March 9 while working on a prescribed fire in the panhandle of Texas and were airlifted to a hospital. The Borger Fire Department  (map) has confirmed that two of their personnel, fire fighter Clay Lozier and fire chief Bob Watson, were injured transported to Lubbock for treatment.

According to Amarillo.com:

Borger Fire Chief Bob Watson remains in serious condition Saturday at the UMC Timothy J. Harnar Burn Center in Lubbock, according to BFD Lieutenant Stacy Nolen, and Borger firefighter Clay Lozier, who was injured in the same incident, has since been released from the burn unit.

News Channel 10 reports that the prescribed fire on the JA Ranch in Donley County was going well until a juniper tree torched, causing a spot fire. The firefighters almost had that contained when a fire whirl “threw fire 30 yards in every direction”, ranch owner Andrew Bivins said.

There was a burn ban in effect in Donley County but Texas law exempts prescribed fires from burn bans.

Another firefighter burned by chain saw “fuel geyser”

Last month a firefighter suffered serious burns when gasoline forcefully vented while he was removing the fuel cap on a Stihl MS461 chainsaw.

The incident occurred October 10, 2016 (we first reported it here) on the Pingree Hill prescribed fire near Rustic, Colorado. For years the land management agencies have been warning firefighters about the dangers of gasoline being forcefully released from chain saws. Some of these incidents have occurred with saws that have the new quarter-turn gas caps. After a chain saw has been running for a while pressure can build up in the gas tank causing vapor lock, which can prevent the saw from running. Thinking it may be out of fuel, the operator opens the quarter-turn gas cap and the pressure in the tank forces out fuel and vapor. If there is an ignition source nearby, it can quickly ignite and cause very serious injuries.

Below is an excerpt from a report issued about the October 10 incident. We pick up the narrative as the saw team is finishing a break:

…After roughly fifteen minutes, the sawyer sizes up the second snag and identifies a rock adjacent to the tree that he can stand on to make his cuts. He enters the burned area, steps onto the rock, and pulls on the starter cord. The saw starts but quickly sputters and dies, he opens the choke and tries again with the same result. After two or three more tries he thinks the saw may be out of gas. The saw is equipped with the newer “1/4 turn” quick release fuel and oil caps making it easy to simply flip the saw on its side and open the cap while remaining in a standing position. On older model saws with the threaded caps, this process involved using a scrench to loosen and unscrew the cap, making it difficult to open the tank without setting the saw down.

As he opens the cap the fuel sprays out in two distinct bursts spraying liquid and vaporized fuel on his stomach area and right arm. He quickly realizes this is a very dangerous situation… “I had an oh s*** moment!” The swamper looks, and notices fuel “boiling and bubbling” out of the fuel tank and sees open flame beneath the sawyer’s feet. He yells to the sawyer, but it’s too late. Fuel ignites from the ground, running up toward the saw and the sawyer. Immediately the sawyer’s nomex shirt ignites around his right arm and stomach area. He swings the saw to the left, drops it in the rocks, then sprints downhill through the black to the unburned area beneath the handline and drops to the ground. The swamper reacts and jumps on top of the sawyer and helps extinguish him by throwing dirt on the flames and rolling around to smother the fire.

Once the fire is extinguished the sawyer grabs a radio and calls the Supt. and initially gets no response. He calls the Crew Boss Trainee who responds immediately. The sawyer calmly states “I am burned pretty bad, code red, need an air transport, need to go to the hospital now.”

[…]

The patient is in good spirits and is recovering well but did say:

“The one thing I hope comes out of this is that people will give it one last second thought…before you pop the cap”.

The firefighter received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his right arm and abdominal area.

The report says the extraction of the firefighter went smoothly, thanks largely to the incident within an incident training the crew conducts on a regular basis. About an hour elapsed between the injury and the helicopter taking off to fly him to the burn center.