Three firefighters struck by lightning while battling fire in Los Padres National Forest
Updated: Sep 13, 2011 5:11 PM
One of many lightning strikes Monday afternoon over the Los Padres National Forest.
Three firefighters were air lifted to area hospitals after being struck by lightning in the Los Padres National Forest Tuesday afternoon.
A U.S. Forest Service spokesperson says it was first reported the firefighters were in stable condition. They were battling a fire known as the Frazier One incident in Kern and Ventura Counties, accessible only by air.
A spokesperson says the firefighters were air lifted out of the forest to the nearby Ozena Fire Station off Highway 33, treated, then air lifted to the nearest hospital.
Santa Barbara County Fire crews assisted with the incident.
Three firefighters standing near a lightning strike were hospitalized with symptoms that included disorientation and ringing ears.
The National Forest Service firefighters were battling a 30-acre brush fire in the Mt. Pinos area near Frazier Park when lightning struck about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Earlier reports indicated the strike hit all three men. According to Ventura County Fire Department, the men were within 50 feet of the lighting when it grounded.
Storms in the area had ignited several small fires in the Los Padres National Forest.
All three firefighters were in "stable" condition, said a National Forest Service spokesman. Two were rushed to a hospital in Ventura. The third was taken to Bakersfield. All three firefighters were airlifted.
At least two of the victims are expected to check out of the hospital Tuesday night.
Could this happen with structural firefighting?
Having a lightning strike not actually hit someone is a blessing, but having a contingency plan to deal with this unlikely incident type is needed. The amount of noise it must have taken to produce ringing in the ears must have been intense for those involved.
Anyone out there ever experience this kind of close call?
Lightning strikes from storm fronts is not something typical for my area. Beside getting back into a vehicle and staying away from metal or tree's is my limited knowledge. This really cannot be prevented but maybe there are some hints out there from more experienced firefighters...