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Thread: 1 Firefighter Killed, 3 Injured In California

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    1 Firefighter Killed, 3 Injured In California

    1 Firefighter Killed, 3 Injured In California

    SAN DIEGO (AP) -- One firefighter was killed and three were injured while battling the largest blaze in Southern California on Wednesday, authorities said.

    It was the first firefighter death in the outbreak of fires that have ravaged Southern California this week. Eighteen people have now died in the fires, many of them trying to escape the flames.

    The firefighter died while battling the Cedar Fire in San Diego County - the largest and deadliest blaze in California. It has burned more than 230,000 acres and nearly 1,100 homes.

    One of the firefighters was believed to have suffered critical injuries; the other two were said to have minor injuries.

    California Department of Forestry spokesman Dave Wheeler said the firefighters were near a group of buildings near Wynola, a town a few miles northwest of Julian.

    All were taken to the University of California, San Diego Medical Center.

    Hundreds of firefighters have converged on Julian in the past 24 hours to make a stand against the Cedar Fire.

  2. #2
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    Rucker, Steve

    Age: 38
    Cause of Death: Caught or Trapped
    Rank: Engineer
    Nature of Death: Burns
    Status: Career
    Emergency Duty: Yes
    Incident Date: 10/29/2003
    Duty Type: Fireground Operations
    Incident Time: 12:30
    Activity Type: Cutting Fire Breaks (Wildland)
    Death Date: 10/29/2003
    Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Novato Fire Protection District
    7025 Redwood Boulevard
    Novato , California 94945
    Chief: Jeff Meston

    Initial Summary:
    Engineer Rucker died from injuries received, and two members of his crew (engine 6162) operating on the Cedar fire in San Diego County, CA, were injured, when their position was overrun by fire.

    Memorial Fund Info:
    A trust fund has been set up for the Rucker family. The fund is The Steven Rucker Fund, at the Bank of Marin. For more information regarding donations, please call the Bank of Marin at (415) 899-7338.

  3. #3
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    San Diego Fire Kills Novato Firefighter

    San Diego Fire Kills Novato Firefighter
    Three Firefighters Injured in Attempt to Protect the Town of Julian

    Associated Press Writer

    NOVATO, Calif. (AP) -- The firefighter killed when a fast-moving wildfire overtook his four-man crew as they tried to save a home was remembered at his home firehouse Thursday as a hard worker dedicated to the job.

    "He wasn't sent there. He asked to go,'' Deputy Novato Fire Chief Dan Northern said, fighting back tears as he stood beside a makeshift shrine of flowers, photos and the gear Steve Rucker had left behind.

    Rucker, 38, was the first firefighter killed battling the blazes that have ravaged Southern California since the Santa Ana winds began blowing through the parched hills last week. Twenty people have died in wildfires still raging in San Diego, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

    Rucker and his crew from the Novato Fire Protection District, north of San Francisco, were in San Diego County on Wednesday fighting a wildfire that has burned more than 230,000 acres and nearly 1,100 homes.

    They were trying to save a mountain home near Wynola when the fire flared up. The crew was overrun so quickly they didn't have time to reach their engine, said Fred Batchelor, a state fire marshal. He said they tried to take refuge in the house they were trying to protect.

    "It's calm one moment, and the next moment you have an explosive situation,'' Batchelor said. "In this case, it flared up and rolled in there and engulfed them.''

    One of the three surviving crew members, Capt. Doug McDonald, was in critical condition Thursday with burns over 18 percent of his body. The other two, Shawn Kreps and Barrett Smith, were treated for minor burns.

    At the site just off Highway 78 and Orchard Lane, yellow police tape cordoned off the area where Rucker died.

    Hundreds of miles to the north in Novato, Rucker's fellow firefighters remembered the 11-year veteran firefighter and father of two as they stood around the memorial in the firehouse lobby.

    "We're all struggling, trying to make sense of the situation,'' Northern said. He said Rucker was always happy, involved in his community and loved his job.

    Fire Chief Jeff Meston prepared to fly to the San Diego area with members of the firefighters' families Thursday. He said Rucker was "really one of those firefighters that we all love.''

    "He's the kind of guy that organizes for the families -- the Easter Bunny coming, Santa Claus coming for the kids,'' Meston said. "He was just a great man.''

    At a morning briefing in the San Diego area, many firefighters wore black bands on their badges in memory of Rucker as they prepared to go out and battle the blaze that had killed him.

    "We know our job is dangerous,'' said Jim Venneau, a 31-year-old firefighter stationed in nearby Julian. "We know the chances we take when we do these kinds of things. It bothers you. You want to know exactly what happened because you don't want it to happen to you.''

  4. #4
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    Motorcade Honors Firefighter Killed

    Motorcade Honors Firefighter Killed
    Rucker's Body Flown To Novato, Calif.

    Story by

    SAN DIEGO -- Firefighters, law enforcement, safety services, and civilians turned out by the hundreds Monday to honor Novato fire Engineer Steven Rucker.

    Rucker was killed battling the massive Cedar Fire last Wednesday while saving homes in Wynola, near Julian.

    Police cars and fire engines from numerous departments in San Diego County participated in the procession from Qualcomm Stadium to the East County airport.

    There, hundreds of public safety personnel gathered to pay tribute to their fallen colleague as law enforcement helicopter crews performed a ceremonial fly-over.

    "I think this is part of the healing for the firefighters here, but primarily for the family and all the brothers and sisters of the other departments that are feeling that pain," California Department of Forestry's Mike Shorerock said.

    Pallbearers then loaded Rucker's U.S. flag-draped coffin into a military transport plane, which took off about 12:30 p.m., bound for Santa Rosa. Firefighters from the Novato Fire Protection District accompanied the body on the flight.

    "It's hard to watch that casket go by and know that this gentleman -- Engineer Rucker -- gave his life in my community -- people he didn't even know and saving the house of someone he didn't know," firefighter Steve Sheppard said.

    "We're all a family and we're here to support our brother," Lakeside Fire Chief Ken Kremensky said.

    Rucker, 38, died Wednesday near Julian while battling the 280,000-acre conflagration, which also killed 13 civilians.

    Novato fire Capt. Doug McDonald suffered critical burns in the same incident, and two other firefighters from that department sustained minor injuries.

    McDonald remains "heavily sedated" and on a ventilator at the UCSD Burn Center.

    "He's got some pulmonary damage from smoke inhalation," said the Burn Center's Leslie Franz.

    But McDonald is expected to recover, she added.

    "They do expect that some of his wounds will require surgery," Franz said.

    McDonald -- the father of two teenagers -- suffered burns throughout 25 percent of his body.

    Crews Close In On Fires

    Crews closed in Monday on the daunting goal of containing a pair of massive back-country infernos that combined to create the worst fire crisis in the state's history, 10News reported.

    The worst of the two deadly conflagrations, the 280,300-acre Cedar Fire, was 99 percent surrounded by late Monday afternoon. Officials hoped to complete the job Monday night.

    The target date for full control of the vast burn area is Nov. 16, California Department of Forestry information officer Roxanne Provaznik said.

    The blaze erupted near Ramona the evening of Oct. 25, probably sparked by a lost hunter's signal fire. Over the next week it destroyed 2,820 buildings -- 2,232 of them homes -- and killed 14 people, including a Bay area firefighter.

    It also injured nearly 100 crew members endeavoring to subdue it amid rugged terrain, high temperatures and strong, dry winds.

    The flames posed no further structural threats by Monday afternoon, as about 2,125 personnel continued working to corral the smoldering blaze.

    Meanwhile, to the north, the 56,700-acre Paradise Fire in and around Valley Center was 75 percent contained, with 195 firefighters still assigned.

    That blaze, which started shortly after midnight Oct. 26, destroyed 372 structures, including 179 residences, killed two residents and injured 220 firefighters.

    It should be fully contained by 6 p.m. Saturday, with full control expected by Nov. 15, the CDF reported.

    Investigations continue into the causes of the blazes.

    Monday, firefighters' steady progress allowed schoolchildren from around the region to resume classes after a weeklong hiatus caused by dangerously smoky air shrouding much of the county.

    Palomar Mountain-area residents got the go-ahead Sunday to return to their community, where crews quelled flames at the foot of the peak Saturday, thanks in part to cold, damp weather over the weekend.

    Similarly helpful conditions prevailed Monday, with scattered drizzle and record low maximum temperatures in several areas.

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