PIAf'ON CANYON MANEUVER SITE, Colo.- Carson firefighters from PiAfA+-on Canyon Maneuver Site responded to an off-post fire in Las Animas County, Colo., July 8.

The fire consumed approximately two acres of land and a nongovernmental structure before the fire was put out.

The Fort Carson Fire Department, under a mutual-aid agreement, responded to the fire south of County Road 64 between Tyrone and Model, Colo., at approximately 1 p.m. According to Capt. Justin Schliske, Fort Carson Emergency Services, the Fort Carson crew was preparing to go out on a physical fitness run when they saw the fire.

"We just couldn't stand by and wait," Schliske said. "We were thrilled to be able to help in this situation."

The crew was manning the PCMS fire station in support of C-130 Hercules aircraft training missions at PiAfA+-on Canyon. Air Force units from several states train at PCMS, using the dirt airfield to practice landings and takeoffs, Schliske said. The crew consisted of Schliske, firefighter and engineer Tracy O'Bryan, and firefighters Mark Anderson and Jason Downing. Scott Murray, Fort Carson Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Range Control, who lives in the area, helped direct the firefighters toward the fire. Schliske said at approximately two miles from the fire, they could see that a structure was involved. Upon arrival, it turned out to be a mobile home.

The Hoehne, Colo., Volunteer Fire Department was at the scene, but requested support from the Fort Carson crew. The Fort Carson crew started to help with controlling the resulting wildfire caused by the structural fire when they encountered the fire nearing a 300-pound propane tank venting smoke, Schliske said. The crew then saw a person collapse near the fire at 1:06 p.m. Schliske and Downing moved in to rescue the victim while O'Bryan established a hoseline to cover them. They had to navigate over and around a heavy timber fence to reach the victim. According to Schliske, the heat from the fire made rescue difficult and the threat of a possible explosion of the tank necessitated moving the unconscious victim as quickly as possible. The victim, an unidentified 60-year-old man, had second- and third-degree burns to his legs and arms. Mike Stricker, DPTMS Range Control, brought in his pickup truck on which the patient was loaded to evacuate him from the immediate area. He was medevaced by Flight for Life to St. Mary-Corwin Hospital in Pueblo, Colo., where he was stabilized and later transferred to a burn unit at a Denver-area hospital.

"In my nearly 20 years of service, this was the first fire rescue I have ever participated in," Schliske said. "I am glad we could be there to help."

While they were administering basic lifesaving treatment to the victim, the Hoehne and the Fort Carson crews were joined by the PiAfA+-on Canyon Maneuver Site Brush Unit 20, Chris Simms, DPTMS Range Control, and a crew from Fishers Peak, Colo. By the time the victim was medevaced, the grass fire had expanded and was threatening the victim's pickup truck. The grass fire was brought under control after burning approximately two acres, Schliske said.

"We are in the process of standing up a full-time crew at the PCMS fire station, hopefully later this month," said Glen Silloway, fire chief, Fort Carson Emergency Services. "We were lucky that our crew from Fort Carson happened to be down there as a C-130 standby crew when they saw the smoke from the fire.

"We work out agreements like this with other local governments (to assist in emergency response), and we are looking forward to working with the local governments from the communities around PiAfA+-on Canyon," he said.

Similar agreements are in place with local agencies serving the communities surrounding the Fort Carson cantonment area. Local firefighters train with Fort Carson firefighters in controlling wildfires and the emergency services personnel stationed out of Turkey Creek Ranch often are the first responders to accidents on Colorado Highway 115 between Colorado Springs and Penrose, Colo.

The fire was under control at 2:28 p.m. and the Fort Carson crew remained on scene until about 5 p.m. to help with the final extinguishment of the fire. The Hoehne Fire Department is investigating the cause of the fire.

Page last updated Fri September 30th, 2011 at 19:22