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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow FIREFIGHTER SUFFERS BURNS IN DRILL

FIREFIGHTER SUFFERS BURNS IN DRILL

BURN TO LEARN: Firefighters torched a house on Adams Avenue Saturday for a burn to learn drill that involved La Grande and other departments. The two-story house was being removed to make way for the new Safeway. (Observer photos/KELLY WARD).
BURN TO LEARN: Firefighters torched a house on Adams Avenue Saturday for a burn to learn drill that involved La Grande and other departments. The two-story house was being removed to make way for the new Safeway. (Observer photos/KELLY WARD).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

A La Grande volunteer firefighter suffered hand and shoulder burns in a practice burn of a two-story house on Adams Avenue Saturday.

Barehk Welley, who has been with the local department about four years, had shoulder burns through his turnouts and through his gloves on both hands, Fire Chief Bruce Weimer said.

Weimer described the burns as small, second-degree burns.

He suffered burns under the turnouts where the airpack straps come over the shoulder, Weimer said. He had blisters on his hands.

Welley, who is in his early 30s, was treated at the scene, then transported to Grande Ronde Hospital by a police car.

I talked to him at his home this morning, and his left hand is the sorest. His doctor said he should stay home from work for about a week, Weimer said.

Weimer called the incident the most frightening moment of my career. We had planned to send in eight different crews, but when this happened with the second crew in, we just decided to let the house burn.

The first crew went in and successfully completed its training after an instructor set a small fire in an upstairs room.

After the instructor set the fire for the second crew, which included Welley, the instructor called for the team to come in.

There was a slight delay in sending them in because we had noticed we needed to correct some safety items having to do with protecting the firefighters, Weimer said.

The instructor called for them again. By the time the firefighters got onto the second floor, the fire was going way too good.

Some of the 20 to 25 firefighters being trained were from Eagle Valley near Halfway, and one of those was the lead man, the nozzleman, on the second crew that went in.

There was a good amount of smoke and he missed the room where the fire was. Barehk was the second man, Weimer said. He noticed where the fire was but couldnt communicate with the nozzleman. Barehk decided he was too hot and started back out. He was crawling along the hose and got out. He was never lost.

The nozzleman went on through the house and came out onto a landing in the rear, Weimer said. I thought wed lost him. We did a quick head count, but it was pretty scary.

 
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