Cal Fire firefighter goes back to work after being bitten by rattlesnake in Pointe Fire

Posted at 5:04 PM, Aug 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 20:21:00-04

EL CAJON, Calif. - A Cal Fire engineer is back to work this week after he was bitten by a rattlesnake as he helped battle the Pointe Fire in Spring Valley last week.

Jeff Pizillo said he was helping lay hose when he became "an incident within an incident."

"When I grabbed the hose line and was bringing it around a rock, I stepped on a rattlesnake," he remembered.

The rattlesnake, described by Pizillo as "a big boy," sunk two fangs into his left calf.

"I thought it was a stick, but then the rattles … " said Pizillo, who estimated the snake was at least five feet long.

Pizillo, who has never encountered a snake during his 15 years as a firefighter or during his 14 years in the U.S. Army, said he immediately noticed two other rattlesnakes huddled in the same area. He warned his fellow firefighters and then went to find medical help.

"What bothered me the most was when I started hiking up the hill is when I started feeling the numbness," he said.

Doctors at Sharp Grossmont Hospital said the bite would have been much worse if Pizillo wasn't wearing his fire gear and an extra pair of socks.

Pizillo spent the night in the hospital, but he was back to work two days later.