Firefighters drove blindly off road to their deaths, report says

22 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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Strong, shifting winds that dramatically fanned a wildfire near Twisp in Okanogan County in August pushed walls of flames and smoke onto a team of firefighters, catching them off-guard and forcing them to retreat blindly down a winding dirt road to their deaths, according to a joint state and federal report released Friday. The preliminary investigation of a deadly wildfire in August gives a detailed account of how three Forest Service firefighters met their deaths near Twisp, Washington. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is also accepting applications for the position of forestry aides, whose job it is to inspect defensible space around structures. He went through the flames and made his way to the road.” The report, offers the most detailed account to date about the circumstances surrounding the deadly blaze that killed U.S.

Twenty-five-year-old Daniel Lyon, also with the Forest Service, survived but sustained severe burns after getting out of the vehicle and going through flames. “They kept driving downhill, but they had zero visibility, and the engine went off the road,” the report said. “The engine came to a stop, and the surviving firefighter got out and was immediately engulfed in flames. This position’s primary role will be performing Defensible Space inspections and interacting with the public to provide fire prevention information as well as working at one of CAL FIRE’s demonstration state forests.

Forest Service (USFS), the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the National Park Service — offers a narrative of the fire’s circumstances as part of a larger, ongoing review that seeks to assess the tragedy for safety improvements. A three-person bulldozer crew trying to protect homes ended up deploying the two shelters they had and all fitting inside and survived with minor injuries.

The fire investigation report comes out a day after the lone survivor from the crew trapped by the Twisp River fire was released from a Seattle hospital. Firefighters from three different agencies — Okanogan County Fire District 6, Washington DNR and the USFS — were assigned to fight the fire, tapping a variety of resources. Various crews assigned to 14 different-sized fire engines, two water tenders, two bulldozers and several helicopters and air tankers worked to control the terrain-driven fire that was initially assessed at about three to four acres.

The first incident commander on scene, from the local fire district, drove from house to house up the dead-end Woods Canyon Road, telling residents to evacuate. The initial plan had firefighters “start at the safe, already burned area at the heel of the fire and work their way around the fire, staying as close to the black (burned) area as possible.” Personnel were split among different sides of the fire.

Those three men survived by deploying foil emergency fire shelters at a “Y” in the road. “Like us, you certainly have unanswered questions about this incident. Some later reported they’d “never seen or heard anything like the fire behavior they experienced.” According to the report, the crew members “could not hear anything due to the deafening noise, which one firefighter described as, ‘like a giant TV tuned to static and turned up full blast.’ ” As the fire exploded, one engine crew pulled the point of contact, still on foot on the roadway, into their truck.

The dozer’s operator had left his fire shelter in the bulldozer “because it was attached with a bungee cord to the dozer cage, and he did not think he would need it.” Together, the three men deployed the two available shelters and survived. Daniel Lyon, Jr., the firefighter who survived the deadly Twisp blaze in August, speaks about his recovery process and how excited he is to go home. (Video courtesy of Q13)

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