Saturday, June 30, 2007

NEWS: Returning fire engine crashes Returning fire engine crashes:

Angora Fire strike team - Stockton fire
Returning fire engine crashes

STOCKTON - A team of four Stockton firefighters returning from the wildfire at Lake Tahoe crashed on Highway 50 when the brakes on their fire engine failed, officials said Friday. The captain, engineer and two firefighters were not injured.

Stockton fire Capt. Michael Lilienthal said the group owed their lives to engineer Don Marlow, who was driving when the crash took place about 6:45 p.m. Thursday.

"This easily could have been fatal for our firefighters," Lilienthal said. "You're talking a 35,000- or 40,000-pound engine."

The fire engine was traveling about 50 mph on windy roads outside Strawberry when Marlow discovered the brakes did not work, Lilienthal said. Marlow purposely crashed the engine into a mountain to stop its momentum.

An NBC news van was clipped by the engine, and a woman inside suffered minor injuries, Lilienthal said.

The engine that crashed belongs to the state and was on loan to Stockton for major disasters. In exchange, Stockton firefighters respond to fires like the Angora Fire, which continued burning Friday.

Marlow, Capt. Brian Jones and firefighters Steven Thienes and Ryan Peters had worked the fire since Monday, Lilienthal said.

Three other Stockton firefighters responded to the Angora Fire to lead strike teams, he said.

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