LOST HILLS, Calif., At approximately 8:17 a.m. Kern County firefighters responded to a reported semi fire on Hwy 46 near Kecks Rd. Upon arrival, firefighters found a semi-truck fully involved with the fire having spread to approximately 1/4 acre of grass. The firefighters quickly assessed the safety of the semi driver who was found to be uninjured. Having verified that there was no threat to life, the firefighters proceeded to extinguish the spreading fire as more KCFD resources began to arrive on scene.
Performing the duties of a firefighter requires a willingness to put oneself in harm’s way. It also demands an ability to adapt, as environments rapidly change and strategies are adjusted. These factors of firefighter life were manifest as a van drove past traffic cones and flashing emergency lights, crashing into the fire scene just as the fire was being controlled. The passenger van with two occupants struck a semi-trailer, careening into a parked KCFD fire engine on the side of the highway. The location of the impact was exactly where a firefighter would be when operating the fire engine's water pump.
The KCFD Incident Commander immediately verified the safety of all the firefighters on scene, took an inventory of the new emergency and requested a medevac helicopter to assist. Firefighters, previously tasked with the fire attack, quickly adjusted to the new task at hand: Extricating two patients from a van now resting on its side. A KCFD fire paramedic on scene was utilized for advanced (ALS) medical care on one of the van occupants with life threatening injuries. The patients were transported to the hospital, one by air ambulance and one by ground. Kern County firefighters ensured the full extinguishment of the fire and continued to provide protection to the incident scene until its completion.
Workers on an emergency incident are extremely vulnerable to vehicle traffic. This incident is a reminder to always slow down and move over when approaching an emergency scene.