Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Zaca firefighter seriously injured


A firefighter from Kern County sustained serious injuries after falling 30 feet while working on containment lines for the Zaca Fire in the Sisquoc River area on Sunday, fire officials said.
Josh Lee, 20, suffered an open compound fracture of his lower left leg, as well as other minor fractures, County Fire Spokesman Eli Iskow said.

“We hoisted him out with County Air Support Helicopter 309 with a rescue hoist and a county fire paramedic on board,” Iskow said. “He was flown to Cottage Hospital and he had his tibia pinned [Sunday] night.”
Lee, a first-year crew member with Democrat Crew 87 from Kern County, will remain under observation and treatment for his other injuries for the next few days, officials said.
“He’s doing really well,” Iskow said. “He might get out of there as early as [today] or Wednesday.”
Calls to the Kern County Fire Department for more information were not successful.
Yesterday also marked the anniversary of the death of Stephen Joseph Masto, a Santa Barbara firefighter who died in the Camuesa Wildland Fire in the Los Padres National Forest in 1999.
As fire crews bring the Zaca Fire closer to full containment, higher humidity kept the flames from spreading any noticeable amount yesterday, authorities said. With growing confidence in their ability to keep the fire at bay, officials opened Highway 33 and lifted the recommended evacuation for the area from Ozena to Brubaker Road west of Highway 33.
“We’re looking good,” Gutierrez said.
Crews continued to strengthen and build lines along the northeast and northwest edges of the fire. Officials said about two miles of fire line still need to be built.
“They know that temperatures are going to be going up in the next few days, so they definitely want to get this thing wrapped up,” Gutierrez said.
Fire officials said a Burnt Area Emergency Response Team is starting to assess damage and look at future effects of the blaze on rainfall runoff to the Cachuma and Gibraltar reservoirs. Rehabilitation efforts are already underway along the southern edge of the fire.
Gutierrez said assessment efforts should take a few weeks, after which the team will generate a report and discuss rehabilitation of the scorched land with cities that will be affected by erosion and silt loading in local water sources.
Acreage and containment figures for the Zaca Fire remained static yesterday as the cost of fighting the stubborn wildland fire grew to $106.5 million.

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