California Firefighter Killed Responding to Wildfire

Fire engine was headed to the Canyon Fire when it overturned

In this Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a fire burns several miles behind Space Launch Complex-3, housing the Atlas V rocket & WorldView 4 satellite, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Crews are working to surround the wildfire at the central California Air Force base that forced the postponement of a weekend satellite launch. The blaze has expanded to the south as it grew to more than 16 square miles. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

In this Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a fire burns several miles behind Space Launch Complex-3, housing the Atlas V rocket & WorldView 4 satellite, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Crews are working to surround the wildfire at the central California Air Force base that forced the postponement of a weekend satellite launch. The blaze has expanded to the south as it grew to more than 16 square miles. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

 

CHRISTOPHER WEBER, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A firefighter among those battling a central California wildfire died Wednesday and another firefighter was hurt when the water tanker truck they were in overturned near Vandenberg Air Force base, officials said.

The accident happened as firefighting crews gained ground in their effort to contain the 19-square mile fire at the base near launch pads used to send satellites into space.

The truck crashed before dawn at a roundabout on a two-lane highway just outside Vandenberg, said Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Steve Swindle. There were no other occupants.

Ventura County was among several departments that sent more than 1,000 firefighters to the fire, which was 45 percent contained.

Firefighters focused Wednesday on the blaze’s southeast boundary. Voluntary evacuation orders were in place for about 400 residents of the San Miguelito Canyon area just off the base near the small city of Lompoc.

There were no indications that the fire on undeveloped and rugged mountainous land threatened any structures.

Officials said the fire did not pose an immediate threat to the space launch complex. Its cause was under investigation.

Swindle identified the dead firefighter as Ryan Osler and said the injured firefighter, Adam Price, was hospitalized. The California Highway Patrol was investigating the cause of the crash.

Osler was in his 30s and a second-generation firefighter, Swindle said. His father also worked for the Ventura County department.

A 1977 wind-whipped fire at Vandenberg killed the base commander, the base fire chief, an assistant chief and a bulldozer operator.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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