Public Service

Quick Action Airlifts Four Trapped by Wildfire

By Jim McKenna | October 31, 2007

Fire

Three firefighters and a young civilian owe their lives to the quick and daring action of aviators who saved them from a Southern California wildfire. A California Forestry and Fire Protection Dept. battalion chief, Ray Chaney, was flying along the U.S.-Mexico border Oct. 21 as air commander on the Harris Fire when he heard screams on his radio. He called off retardant-laden tankers and called in water-bearing helicopters to aid a crew overtaken by flames. One of the helo pilots, Michael Wagstaff of Kachina Aviation, spotted the trapped crew and landed on smoldering ground long enough to allow the three firefighters and a 15-year-old boy to get on board. The boy’s father had been killed by the blaze. Wagstaff rendezvoused with ground ambulances. Two of the firefighters are in a San Diego burn unit in critical condition. For related news

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