Wildland firefighter dies in vehicle accident
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
SELLS, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - A sad reminder Friday, of just what is on the line for those who literally walk into fire for the rest of us; and the sacrifices they make: a wildland firefighter killed in the line of duty.
The death is the result of a fire truck crash---an accident that left two other firefighters injured.
They were fighting the Montezuma fire, burning on the west side of Baboquivari Peak, Northwest of Sasabe, on the Tohono O'odham nation.
The crew was actually just south of Sells at 8 in the morning.
Outside the Pima County Medical Examiner's Officer, there's a wildland fire truck. It's crew is standing vigil over the body of the fallen firefighter.
Earlier, firefighters from Drexel Heights waited by the road in tribute as the caravan of official vehicles bearing the body went by.
The firefighter died in a brush truck. It rolled. One firefighter died. The two others on board had minor injuries.
The victim was 31. His ID may be available Saturday. For now we know his hometown was Yuma and he worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Of the survivors, one is a 29 year old, also from Yuma, the other is 25. His hometown is not available.
Other firefighters were recalled from the fire line---normal procedure when there's a fatality, in part of re-assess safety procedures. A stress management team has been called in to help.
Fire information officer Jonetta Trued says, "We left two helicopters that are still in operation doing monitoring and patrol. The important thing to remember here is that this fire is 90 percent contained and basically they have a ring around it. So it was not---it didn't impair firefighting efforts in order to stand down the crew that was there."
A study by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group shows, vehicle accidents kill more wildland firefighters than fire.
310 firefighters died fighting wildfires from 1990 to 2006.
72 were in aircraft accidents, just barely one more than the death toll from vehicle accidents with 71.
Heart attacks rank 3rd at 68, only then do you see actual fire deaths with 64.