California Firefighter Burned Battling Wildfire

June 10, 2008
The firefighter received second-degree burns to his hands and arms.

A firefighter with the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District was taken to UC Davis Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon after suffering second-degree burns while fighting a blaze in the Rancho Cordova area.

The firefighter was burned on his hands and arms when the wind shifted and a crew of firefighters was "burned over" while battling the blaze near Jackson Road and Excelsior Road, said Capt. Jeff Lynch.

The two-alarm blaze broke out about 12:12 p.m. and is one of several wildfires burning in the region.

The injured fire captain was part of a three-man crew that was up against a mobile home, spraying water against flames. Suddenly, officials said, the wind shifted and sent flames right at the crew. Two fire fighters jumped into the cab of their vehicle, but the captain could not find shelter in time and the fire burned over him.

"We're all about saving life and property," said Sacramento Metro Fire Capt. Jeff Lynch. "And it's a firefighter's job to put ourselves between the job and property."

The fire has consumed at least 1,000 acres and is "zero percent" contained, Sacramento Metro Fire officials said Tuesday afternoon. It has jumped Elder Creek and Excelsior roads and is moving rapidly, driven by high winds over a flat expanse of tall grass.

Fire officials say several out buildings have burned, but don't know if the five-alarm fire has damaged any farmhouses that dot the area.

The fire is moving so fast, officials said, that flames are blowing past some buildings, swallowing up grass along the way but not heating up the structures enough to burn.

More than 75 fire fighters are on the scene and CalFire crews are en route. One helicopter is making water drops.

Jon Delzer, who rents a home along Jackson Road, was watching the fire move away from the house, eating up grasslands outside his window Tuesday afternoon. He and his housemates were ready to evacuate as flames threatened six trees and a barn.

Delzer said they packed quickly, taking four guitars among a handful of items.

"It really caught us by surprise," said Delzer, looking out behind the distinctive, bright green house built in 1908 and which features 21 acres of now-blackened grass lands.

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