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4 San Diego firefighters injured while battling Dixie Fire

Cal Fire Fire Captain
Cal Fire firefighters injured
Cal Fire San Diego firefighter injured
Posted at 3:34 PM, Aug 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-15 00:55:10-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Three Cal Fire San Diego firefighters and one Cal Fire Captain were injured while battling the Dixie Fire, the second-largest wildfire in California history.

The Dixie Fire has burned more than 540,000 acres.

Cal Fire San Diego told ABC 10News that on August 7, around 1 a.m., the fire captain along with the three firefighters part of Rainbow Crew 5 were injured after a fire-weakened tree fell on top of them.

Fire Captain Thomas Shoots with Cal Fire, told ABC 10News that the crew members were working on a containment line around a large tree that was burned and damaged, which is what is believed to have led to it's fall.

All four suffered from various injuries and were taken to the hospital for treatment, according to Cal Fire.

The three Cal Fire firefighters were released within 24 hours of the incident, and Captain Shoots says specifics into their injuries are still unknown. Two out of the three firefighters are said to have returned to work this week.

But the fire captain sustained significant injuries, including broken bones and fractured vertebrae. He remained hospitalized for nearly one week.

On August 13, the fire captain was released from the hospital and flown back to Southern California to continue treatment near his family. ABC 10News obtained a video of his return where dozens of firefighters lined up, cheered, and thanked him for his service.

Captain Shoots says that the injured Captain has served more than 15 years with the department, and is well respected with everyone.

The fire captain's injuries will require rehabilitation, but he is expected to make a full recovery, Cal Fire said.

Captain Shoots says these men were working overnight, and had already been working the fire for 2 weeks before the incident.

Captain Shoots says when crews work around the clock, navigating potential hazards and changing fire dynamics, it's a blessing that the outcome was not worse than it was, “A foot one side or the other and it could have been catastrophic, so we are going to fight the good fight with him, and we are excited to get him back on the line.”

"The injured CAL FIRE Captain and Firefighters are grateful to be back with their families and appreciate the love and support from everyone. Peer Support Teams from CAL FIRE and the International Association of Firefighters continue to provide assistance to all personnel," Cal Fire said in a statement.

Captain Shoots says while incidents like these are not normal, this is not the first injury to have occurred from the Dixie Fire. He furthers that currently there are 20 Cal Fire engines along with over 65 hundred personnel still working to contain the fire.

It's been one month since the Dixie Fire exploded in Northern California. The relentless Dixie fire shows no signs of slowing down as it continues to threaten homes and strain firefighting resources. It was 31% contained as of Saturday.