NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Three firefighters were recently injured while fighting the Hermit’s Peak Calf Canyon fire. Officials say it happened during a water drop from a helicopter.
Almost 3,000 fire personnel are responding to the fire and while safety is a number one priority, officials say accidents do happen.
Brandalyn Vonk is a Hermit’s Peak Calf Canyon Fire Public Information Officer. She shares, “Safety can be a challenge. But we’ve been doing this a long time. And having those discussions and actively making adjustments as we need to reduce that risk is what helps us be successful in reducing those potential injuries.”
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According to the Bureau of Land Management, on Sunday morning, a type 1 helicopter commonly known as a chinook, was providing water drops along the fire’s edge and missed the identified drop area.
Instead, a water load dropped on top of three members of the Vale hotshot crew. They were holding a section of fire line on the Calf Canyon south zone of the Hermit’s Peak fire.
Two of the firefighters received minor injuries and were treated at a Santa Fe hospital and later released. A third firefighter was taken to a hospital in Albuquerque with more severe injuries.
Vonk explains, “As far as all three of them. They are resting comfortably. We have multiple people specifically working directly with each firefighter to make sure we address their needs.” The firefighter who is hospitalized in Albuquerque has undergone multiple surgeries for a skull fracture and a broken knee cap.
KRQE News 13 was told each crew member has an incident response pocket guide with them at all times that has information and resources in case of an incident like this one.
The BLM says the investigation into the incident is still ongoing. Type 1 helicopters can carry up to 3,000 of water.