MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION) When the Dolan Fire doubled in size on Sept. 8, three firefighters faced serious to critical injuries, and Fort Hunter Liggett emergency responders have shared more details about their response to the incident.
When the fire grew, 13 Los Padres National Forest firefighters and two dozer operators were trapped and had to deploy their fire shelters. After about 40 minutes, they were able to radio for help.
Officials with Fort Hunter Liggett said radio silence allowed them to get emergency messages through, which included requesting an ambulance. Shortly after the first ambulance was called, officials said firefighter-paramedic Noah Munds was called to follow with a second ambulance. A fire engine was also sent to prepare a helicopter landing zone.
“We had three medics on that day and we were also fortunate that the air was clear to launch Mercy Air 20 to get the patients out as quickly as possible,” said FHL Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Minetti, who was the incident commander. “My job was to do a quick triage of patients, find the critical patients, and get them to the air ambulance as soon as possible to get them to a burn center within an hour or less.”
“The site we were at was at risk for further burnover,” Munds said when describing his arrival at the scene. “The fire was right there.”
Munds transported two seriously injured firefighters to meet a helicopter called in while the others went to a casualty collection point and were treated by a paramedic.
Two firefighters were seriously injured in the incident and one was critically injured. All three were flown to Fresno Community Regional Medical Center's burn unit. Two have been released, but as of Wednesday, one is still hospitalized.
“Nobody wants to see a burnover type situation occur on any fire,” said Shawn Sullivan, Director of FHL Emergency Services. “However, firefighters train for such situations and are very proficient in deploying shelters. We train on it every year at FHL, and we are lucky everyone survived this scary situation."