As we approach the anniversary of the Eva Schicke fatality, Valley Fire, Lauder Fire and the World Trade Center Attacks.
Firefighter Schicke was a member of an elite 9 person helitack team. The team was called to fight the beginning stages of the Tuolumne Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest. When the team arrived aboard their helicopter, 7 members of the team were dropped off, and 2 members remained with the helicopter to begin water drops. Firefighters established safety zones and began their decent into a steep canyon.
The fire was moving up the canyon away from them and had displayed mild behavior at this point in the incident. While the crew was working, a wind shift blew the fire toward the crew. With only moments to react due to the speed of the fire, firefighters were forced to run to their safety zones. Firefighter Schicke and another firefighter attempted to run uphill to the roadside safety zone. The first firefighter made it to safety; however the fire overran Firefighter Schicke before she could reach the safety of the road. The cause of death for Firefighter Schicke was smoke inhalation. Firefighter Schicke was the first female CDF firefighter to be killed in the line of duty. Firefighter Schicke died September 12,2004.
The Valley Fire occurred in a weather pattern very similar to the one we are in this week and it was mild in appearance. The temperatures were low around 80 degrees, winds were S/W 10 TO 20 , and even some cloud cover.
The Valley Fire was a wildfire during the 2015 California wildfire season that started on September 12, in Lake County, California. The fire started shortly after 1:00 pm near Cobb and by 6:30 PM had burned more than 10,000 acres. By Sunday, the thirteenth of September, the fire had reached 50,000 acres and had destroyed much of Cobb, Middletown, Whispering Pines, and parts in the south end of Hidden Valley Lake. The fire ultimately spread to 76,067 acres, killed four people and destroyed nearly 2,000 buildings. At the time, the fire was the third-worst fire in California history, based on the total structures burned
Valley Fire statistics, September 12, 2015,Burned area, 76,067 acres, Buildings destroyed,1955 structures,93 structures damaged, Fatalities 4,Non-fatal injuries,4 (firefighters).
On September 11, 2001 The Battalion Chief of FDNY Battalion 1 witnessed American Airlines Flight 11 crash into the North Tower of the World Trade Center and immediately radioed a multiple alarm incident. Over the course of the next three hours, 121 engine companies, 62 ladder companies and 27 fire officers were deployed to the scene. All off-duty firefighters were recalled — the first time the FDNY had issued a total recall in over 30 years.
In addition to the regular fire apparatus and personnel assigned to the incident, the FDNY also deployed its only Haz-Mat unit, its mobile command center, its field communications unit, all its five rescue units, both of its high-rise units, six of its seven squad units, and one of its two tactical support units.
The attacks on the WTC took the lives of 343 FDNY members and nearly 2200 civilians.
On the morning of September 29, 1987, near Willits in Lake County, CA, five members of the Helitack crew on Copter 102 from Kneeland Helitack in Humboldt County, were removing vegetation in the path of a “spot fire” started by embers which were blown a short distance ahead of the main Lauder Fire. The larger fire suddenly roared in their direction and the smaller spot fire merged with it.
All 5 crew members were entrapped and deployed their shelters. Denis Cullins died and the others suffered burn injuries covering 15 to 50 percent of their bodies.
August 1st, is usually a timestamp when the fuels, and weather in Northern California reach their critical levels and our fire season takes off! This year is proving to be anything but typical. We had historic burning conditions occurring in June of this year, and those conditions have carried through this week, and they are expected to get worse.
Please take a moment to review the above mentioned incidents.