Firefighter injured during brush fire response

The suspected cause is fireworks.

A firefighter was injured while responding to a brush fire at Sunshine Cove after midnight, said Capital City Fire/Rescue assistant chief Chad Cameron.

The injury was a twisted or possibly sprained ankle, which a firefighter suffered because of the steep, rocky terrain, Cameron said in an interview. The firefighter was not transported to Bartlett Regional Hospital but will seek medical evaluation.

No on else was hurt in the fire or responding to it, Cameron said.

Fireworks found on the scene are the suspected cause of the fire, Cameron said, and it is being investigated by the Fire Marshal.

“The Juneau population isn’t as aware of fireworks as they are down south,” Cameron said. “They’re not used to having such dry conditions.”

CCFR initially received a report of the fire at about 11:30 p.m. Friday, Cameron said, and the caller was advised that the fire was outside of CCFR’s fire service area, which ends at Cohen Drive, and the United States Forest Service was alerted of the fire.

Cameron said after midnight Saturday, CCFR learned the Forest Service would be unable to respond, so two fire engines, a pickup truck and a squad were sent to fight the fire.

Once on the scene, Cameron said firefighters encountered a fire that was about a half of an acre in size.

“There were a bunch of civilians on the scene,” Cameron said. “They said they had been working to extinguish the fire. There were some people video taping who said they had been there about three hours.”

Cameron said CCFR thanked the people for their efforts and got to work fighting the blaze. He said CCFR was unable to totally extinguish the fire but was able to get it under control.

“We left the scene and got back here (the fire station) right around 5:30 a.m.,” Cameron said.

Paul Robbins Jr., public affairs officer for the Tongass National Forest, said the fire was fully extinguished before 9 a.m.

Robbins said the rain and general conditions meant the efforts were essentially “mopping up hot spots, so it wouldn’t flare back up.”

Shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday, the CCFR explained its response to the late night call via a Facebook post.

“We can and do assist the USFS with wild land fires with a mutual aid agreement,” stated the post. “Some people don’t believe the fire service boundaries should be recognized by the department. All firefighters want to help with all emergencies they have the ability to help with. However, if we commit all of our resources outside our area of responsibility, the citizens that pay every year for the service get short changed and it creates huge liability for the department.”

“For example, this morning while the crews were assisting at Sunshine Cove, we transported 5 people that needed emergency medical care and we had a fire inside the designated service area,” it continued. “All of those people have a reasonable expectation if they call 911 help will respond. We also had a firefighter receive an injury while working out there. Now our operations will be short 1 vital person while they recover.”


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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