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Sunday, June 24, 2007

2 firefighters trapped inside overturned Water Tender

California Fire News-Water tender Flipped On Way to Fight Fire

Water tender Flipped On Way to Fight Fire

2 firefighters trapped inside

By Jessica Peres

- The accident happened at about 7 pm Saturday, at the intersection of Avenue 21 and Road 26, just north of the City of Madera.

It certainly was a scary situation for two volunteer firefighters and two civilians who got caught in a nasty wreck.

The Madera County Firefighters were on their way to fighting a vegetation fire along the Chowchilla River when their water tender got broadsided by another car.

This was the tangled scene after a Honda crashed into a 4 thousand gallon water tender. As the water tender lay helpless on its side, two volunteer firefighters were trapped inside.

CHP Officer Peter Grotto was one of the first to arrive on the scene. He says the two volunteer firefighters were calm as the jaws of life came to free them.

"We had two volunteer firefighters that were very calm and they had their wits about them they were talking to us and to each other and they were just patiently waiting to be rescued from the vehicle" says Officer Grotto.

Cal fire officials said it was hard to see one of their own in such a critical situation. Tracy Cheek, Cal fire, says "afterwards we think about the families of the PCF's and the people that were involved, but that's what we do that's our job."

The two firefighters had their lights and sirens on as they traveled down road 26 to the Chowchilla River fire. CHP officers say they cleared the intersection and kept going but they were hit by a Honda when the driver didn't stop at the stop sign.

When emergency crews arrived, the water tender was on its side. They say it took 15 minutes to get the firefighters out.

"The H40 helicopter transported the two passengers from the Honda to Regional Medical Center and the two volunteers went via ambulance to the medical center" says Officer Grotto.

Crews helped drain the water tank to make it easier to tow away.

Officials say the accident shows how dangerous firefighters' jobs are, even when responding to an incident.

The fire along the Chowchilla River was fully contained.

The driver of the water tender truck was released from the hospital Saturday evening. The other firefighter spent the night at the hospital, no word on his condition.

CHP is continuing to investigate the accident.

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