OAKLAND (AP) – The fire brigade’s decision to stay put and protect their dear station on California’s central coast nearly claimed the lives of 14 firefighters consumed by the blaze, according to a report. The report was released Friday by an organization that promotes firefighter safety.
Fourteen firefighters deployed emergency shelters on September 8, 2020, when flames from the Dolan Fire overtook them and destroyed the Nacimiento station in the Los Padres National Forest.
Three people were hospitalized with burns and smoke inhalation and one with the most serious injuries could not be interviewed due to his ongoing complications, the Wildland Fire Learning Center reports.
A review by a team of fire experts has revealed a number of factors that influenced the crew’s decision to stay on even as flames in the rugged mountains above Big Sur raced towards them.
“The Nacimiento station is part of a mandatory evacuation zone for private homeowners, but the crew still lives at the station. This contributes to the perception of the station by the crew as a safe place,” the report said, adding that some crew members were determined to save the place they considered home.
The report also noted the lack of defensive space and a formal plan on when to stay or abandon the station. A safety officer’s concern about the station’s ability to protect against a major wildfire went unresolved.
“There is an entire program dedicated to helping homeowners understand how and where to create a defensive space before the smoke becomes airborne so their home is better positioned to be saved in the event of a fire. fire is breaking out. We funded the ad campaign after the actual ad campaign begged people to do their part so firefighters could do their jobs more safely,” reports said.
“If we preach it, we should do it.”
When some raised concerns about firefighters staying behind to protect structures, they were ignored because none of them were “above the Captains in command, and no one are people they know well or value,” according to the report.
Eventually, the rapidly approaching fire surrounded the firefighters and another crew was dispatched to help them. As the heat from burning buildings increased and propane tanks exploded around them, firefighters deployed their heat shields as a last resort.
One firefighter told reviewers that the heat was so oppressive “I felt like all the liquid was burning away from me.” Another firefighter who was unable to get his shelter from a burning truck said a colleague dragged him into her deployed shelter thereby saving her life. he.
The fire burned for weeks but it doubled in size the night before the fire and burned a total of 195 square miles. The fire destroyed several structures and killed nine endangered California animals at a wildlife sanctuary.
A man who was arrested near the starting point of the fire has been arrested and charged with arson and illegal cannabis cultivation. Ivan Gomez pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial in the case.
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https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2022/01/21/review-2020-decision-to-defend-central-coast-fire-station-nearly-cost-lives/ 2020 Decision to Protect Central Coast Fire Station Almost Costly – CBS San Francisco