Firefighter suffers burns battling blaze

Firefighter suffers burns battling blaze

10 July 2009

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A 28-year-old southwest Idaho firefighter has been flown to Seattle with severe burns he suffered battling a wildfire in Alaska’s Interior, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Officials with the Boise National Forest said Todd Warner was transported to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital with second- and third-degree burns Thursday after a gasoline explosion about 7 p.m.

At about 1 a.m. Friday, he was sent to Harbor View Hospital in Seattle, accompanied by a fellow paramedic crew member, to be treated for burns that covered an estimated 20 percent of his body, Boise National Forest spokesman David Olson said.

“He received burns on his hands, arms and face,” Olson said. “… Initial information was his face had basically sear damage — first- to second-degree — and the arms and hands had deeper burns on them.”

Warner, a member of the 20-man Idaho City Hotshot crew, left for Alaska on Wednesday morning with a 737 jet load of firefighters to help with the growing number of fires charring the landscape across the state.

His crew was initially sent to the massive 134,000-acre Minto Flats South fire burning near Nenana but was diverted to another newly sparked blaze sometime after arriving, Olson said.

Accident investigators were heading to the scene Friday to determine what happened, Lehnhausen said.

But initial indications were that Warner and a few others were working with a water pump, which may have been sucking water from a nearby body of water to douse the fire, when the mishap took place, Olson said.

Warner was burned by either a flash fire or an explosion that was fueled by gasoline. The others in the area did not report injuries.

Olson said Warner was a “seasoned” crewman who has been with the Idaho Hotshots crew for several years. His wife was on the way to Seattle to be with him, he said.

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