Fires in MT, CO, and SD on Red Flag day; firefighter injured in rollover

Larimer County fire
Fire in Larimer County, CO. Photo: Poudre Fire Authority

The Red Flag Warning for Tuesday proved not to be a false alarm, as early season wildfires burned yesterday in Montana, Colorado, and South Dakota.

Fire in Larimer County, CO. Photo: Poudre Fire Authority


These two photos are of a fire that burned approximately 300 acres in Larimer County, Colorado (map) near Fort Collins. A relative humidity of 9% and winds gusting up to 25 mph challenged firefighters who successfully protected homes in the area.


In Montana, a firefighter was injured Wednesday morning when a water tender rolled over at 7:45 a.m. on Ryan Dam Road near Great Falls. The firefighter was transported to a hospital by helicopter. The extent of the injuries was not immediately known. The now contained fire, which started Tuesday afternoon, burned about 7,000 acres but stalled at the Missouri River. Reports are that strong winds broke a power pole, starting the fire. Another firefighter was treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation.

On Tuesday, winds gusting up to 50 mph created dust storms, snapped power poles, and pushed several fires in the north-central and south-central parts of Montana.

A fire in Blaine and Hill counties between Havre (map) and Chinook, Montana burned between 5,000 and 7,000 acres before it was contained by the firefighters on the 40 engines that responded.

Another fire north of Great Falls forced the evacuation of approximately 200 people, and smoke from the fire contributed to two multiple car accidents on U.S. Highway 87 which involved a total of 11 vehicles.

Here is an excerpt from an article in the Great Falls Tribune:

James Tilman, a FedEx Ground driver who runs a route to Havre and back each day, came through the area at its worst.

He said the wind was blowing so fiercely that it nearly tipped over his delivery vehicle.

He pulled over when a Montana Highway Patrol vehicle came through with its lights flashing.

He said he saw a vehicle that had its front end crushed in up to the windshield and a pickup out in the field. He also saw another wreck on the other side of the road.

While he was pulled over, a car slowed down and was rear-ended by another vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed, according to Tilman. That created a domino effect involving multiple vehicles, he said.

South Dakota

The Mountain fire near Elk Mountain west of Custer started at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday and burned about 30 acres of private land. The fire is contained and is being mopped up by three engines today, according to Beth Hermanson, spokesperson for the South Dakota Division of Wildland Fire Suppression.

The Skyline fire east of Custer off Highway 16a burned 1/4 acre and destroyed a shed.

A third fire fire southwest of Interior burned about 20 acres. According to the Rapid City Journal it started from an escaped controlled burn on private land.

In the South Dakota Black Hills a single-engine air tanker, an air attack platform, and a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter are available during this period of high fire danger.
Thanks go out to LM, Christian, and Al

3 Utah firefighters injured in truck rollover

Three firefighters from the Farmington (Utah) Fire Department were injured Wednesday night when their 22,000-pound military surplus vehicle rolled 70 feet down an embankment during what the department said was driver training. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, one firefighter was flown to a hospital and remained there Thursday with head injuries. The other two were transported by ground ambulance. One of them was released from the hospital Thursday morning.

The fire department, which is north of Salt Lake City, Utah (map) had just acquired the truck and planned to convert it into a water tender to be used on wildfires. At 9 p.m. the three firefighters were training to drive the truck in conditions they might find on a fire, and were on an unimproved narrow road. The driver failed to negotiate a tight turn and the truck went off the road, rolling three or four times as it tumbled down an embankment, ending up on it’s side. Two of the firefighters were ejected, in spite of wearing seat belts, which were the old lap belt style without shoulder restraints.

9 firefighters injured in crew carrier crash

Crew Carrier crash
Photo: NBCLosAngeles

Nine U. S. Forest Service firefighters were injured when their crew carrier crashed in southern California Monday night. Nathan Judy, a USFS public information officer, said seven were taken to area hospitals, treated, then released. Two had to be extricated from the truck and were flown to USC University Hospital in Los Angeles. Judy said they were being held for observation with injuries that were not life-threatening.

According to NBC in Los Angeles he accident happened at about 9:30 p.m. PT as the crew was returning from working on a brush clearance project in the Littlerock area of the Antelope Valley near Palmdale.

The Associated Press reported that authorities said the driver of the crew carrier swerved to avoid hitting a dog and lost control. The truck rolled over a 15-foot an embankment, landing on its side.

Thanks Raj

New Mexico water tender rolls over while responding to grass fire

Sierra VFD rollover

A $300,000 water tender from the Sierra Volunteer Fire Department in New Mexico was totaled when it rolled over Thursday while responding to a grass fire. According to state police, the 27-year old operator of the rig, Adam Chrisman, was given a citation for careless driving. He suffered a head injury and was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

Here is a video report on the accident, from

Just in the last nine months, Wildfire Today has reported on five other fire apparatus rollovers that occurred while firefighters were responding to wildfires, here, here, here, and here.

Another engine rollover injures three firefighters

Coweta County wrecked fire Truck

We are distressed to have to report still another rollover of an engine responding to a vegetation fire, injuring firefighters. This time it is in Coweta County, Georgia.


Three firefighters were injured in a wreck on the way to a brush fire in Coweta County on Sunday.

Engine No. 16 rolled over at Ga. 34 and Dixon Road just before noon, county spokeswoman Patricia Palmer said.

Two of the firefighters were taken to Piedmont Newnan Hospital, and the third was transported by helicopter to Atlanta Medical Center, Palmer said.

The injuries do not appear to be life-threatening, she said.

Remember the statistic that Dick Mangan reported:

Vehicle accidents were the 2nd leading cause of death for wildland firefighters between 1990 and 2009.

Here are the search results for “rollover” on Wildfire Today. Distressing.

Firegeezer reported today that an aerial platform with a 300-foot reach rolled over in Germany on Saturday. It’s obviously not a wildland fire rig, but spectacular in it’s capabilities…which, by the way, are nil when it’s laying on it’s side.

Two fire truck rollovers

Morganton North Carolina fire truck rollover
WSOC-TV Channel 9

There have been two fire truck rollovers recently in which the firefighters were seriously injured while responding to vegetation fires. The photo above shows an engine from the West End Fire Department in North Carolina on Tuesday. Here is an excerpt from The News Herald:

Morganton – A West End firefighter was injured Tuesdaywhen his engine overturned while responding to a fire call.

Donald Hughes, 42, of 5298 Hayes Water Road, Morganton was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, according to Trooper Aaron Johnson, with the N.C. State Highway Patrol. Hughes’ condition was unknown at press time.

Johnson said Hughes was traveling south on Dysartsville Road in a 2000 International Fire Truck, on his way to a fire call on Gold Mine Road, when he lost control of his fire truck.

While rounding a turn on Dysartsville, the fire truck ran off the right side of the road, Johnson said. He attempted to correct the path and pulled the vehicle back on the road.

The vehicle again went off the right side of the road, striking several bushes, mailboxes and trees before flipping, Johnson said. Highway patrol was notified at 2:34 p.m.

Hughes suffered fractures to his legs and several broken ribs, the trooper said. There also were concerns of internal bleeding.

Burke County EMS took Hughes to Grace Hospital, and then he was airlifted to Charlotte.

Johnson said speed was not likely an issue as most fire engines don’t typically travel very fast.

It is often difficult for fire trucks to drive on country roads that are narrow and curvy, Johnson said, especially because of their size. He added that water can shift in the fire engine, which makes it difficult to regain control.

The fire truck was totaled, Johnson said, with damages easily topping $300,000.

The second rollover happened near Beaumont, Mississippi on Friday. From the Laurel Leader-Call:

LAUREL — Two Perry County volunteer firefighters were injured after a tanker truck they were riding in wrecked on a county road in Beaumont Friday evening.

Beaumont Police Chief Wayne Penton said firefighters Kent Lott and Milton Paskey of the Arlington Volunteer Fire Department were responding to a fire on River Loop Road in Beaumont when the accident occurred at about 5 p.m. The ages of the firefighters were not available.

“The Beaumont Fire Department was already at the scene of the fire battling the blaze,” said Penton. “They were en route in a tanker truck to haul water to the fire.

“There are no fire hoses in areas outside the city limits and they have to rely on tankers to bring the water in to these areas,” explained Penton. “They were en route on a small country road and came into a curve when they met another vehicle.”

Penton said it appeared that the tanker went over too far as it tried to avoid hitting the vehicle and flipped over one time.

“It landed on its top,” said the chief. “They had to use the jaws of life and everything else to get them out of the truck.”

Penton said Lott is in critical condition, while Paskey is listed as serious. The injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.