Inmate Firefighters Recovering After California Crash

A CalFire captain and 13 inmate firefighters were recovering Tuesday from injuries suffered in the crash.


AGUANGA, Calif. --

A CalFire captain and 13 inmate firefighters were recovering Tuesday from injuries suffered in the crash of a transport bus returning from a fire in Aguanga. Two other inmates who were more seriously injured remained in the hospital, a fire captain said.

The CalFire captain was apparently driving the crew bus when it crashed, said CalFire-Riverside County Capt. Fernando Herrera. He suffered minor injuries in the crash and was treated for cuts and bruises and released, Herrera said.

The crash was reported at 7:38 p.m. Monday on Wilson Valley Road, west of Highway 371, about 12 miles east of Temecula, according to CalFire-Riverside County information officer Jody Hagemann.

The crew bus carries 14 in a rear cargo compartment equipped with bench seats and seat belts, Herrera said. The driver and a passenger ride in the front cab, Herrera said. All 16 people aboard the bus required treatment after the crash.

One critically injured inmate was airlifted to a hospital, Hagemann said. The other critically injured inmate, the CalFire captain, and an inmate with moderate injuries were transported by ambulance. Twelve inmates were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

"None of the critical injuries were life-threatening," said Herrera, explaining that the term "critical" can mean anything from near-death to a broken limb, where emergency crews are using a triage system to sort out injuries.

The inmate firefighters were returning to their camp near Oak Glen in San Bernardino County, said CalFire-Riverside County Capt. Dean Veik.

The brush fire earlier Monday scorched about 20 acres and was reported contained at noon, Hagemann said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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