Port Orchard firefighter run over by truck while battling Malibu wildfires
PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- A firefighter from the Puget Sound area was injured while helping fight the raging wildfires in Southern California Thursday morning.
Lt. Terry Geiselman with South Kitsap Fire & Rescue was one of the department's team members working the Woolsey Fire in Malibu when he was struck by a pickup truck as he slept next to his fire truck at the end of a day-long shift.
He was flown by helicopter to a local hospital with members of his team, officials said. The extent of his injuries were considered serious at first, but further tests revealed the injuries were not as bad as initially feared, officials said.
"He has some bumps and bruises, but overall he's in good health, and he's resting now and he's under observation," said Fire Chief Steve Wright with South Kitsap Fire & Rescue.
Geiselman was assigned to Washington Strike Team 2, which has been taken out of service and is getting rest. Crews aren't sure yet if they will return to the fire or be sent home.
Wright said he was able to speak briefly with Geiselman after he was stabilized and said it was great to hear his voice and know he is okay. Geiselman will likely remain at the hospital for a couple days for observation and as soon as he is cleared for travel he will be brought home to Port Orchard, Wright said.
"We're so thankful that the injuries are minor and our firefighter will be home soon," Wright said. "Really just a miracle he wasn't more injured, considering the situation."
Wright also wanted to thank fellow firefighters there that helped support them during the incident.
"SKFR is thankful for the outpouring of support from our community and those in California, including the Ventura Firefighters who stood by with our crews at the hospital," Wright said.
Geiselman is a 21-year career veteran of S. Kitsap Fire & Rescue.
Thursday's incident brought up memories of how serious these fire fights can be. Ten years ago Chief Dan Packer of East Pierce Fire and Rescue lost his life while helping out in California.
“I remember that like it was yesterday,” said Assistant Chief Douglas Richards of South Kitsap. “All of those memories came back and it was a highly emotional event for everyone involved. I'm just glad that the individual is safe, recuperating and will be home soon."
Members of South Kitsap Fire and Rescue flew down to be with Geiselman and the rest of the team and to make plans to bring him home. Now they need to decide whether the rest of the crew comes home with him.
The so-called Woolsey Fire started Nov. 8 and quickly became one of the largest and most destructive fires in state history. Firefighters have made steady progress this week but warned many hotspots remain.
Three people have been found dead in the blaze so far.