Firefighters were called to the former golf course to extinguish a 1-quarter-acre grass fire caused by a power line knocked over in Sunday’s high winds.
The fire did not damage any structures.
At 12:17 p.m., Battalion Chief Dave Benfield was observing and directing activities as the incident commander when a cottonwood tree estimated at 100 feet tall came crashing onto the command vehicle.
Estimated damage to the 2006 Ford F-350 is about $70,000 because it contained communication and firefighting apparatus that was damaged or destroyed. (Excessive? Why not shop around?...)
After cutting some of the tree limbs with a chain saw to free the truck, firefighters called for a town of Yucca Valley public works tractor loader to lift the tree trunk off the back of the truck.
Gary Benedict, division chief, arrived onscene after the incident commander’s truck was reported destroyed.
“There was so much pressure on the truck that the tires imbedded in ground,” Benedict said. “When we moved the tree we were able to drive the truck away. I’m not trying to sell Fords, but that one held up well. I never believed it would have held up to an impact like that.” (Ford Co. did you catch that? sounds like he has a #Klout account?)
Benfield wrote in his report detailing the demise of his truck, “I moved my vehicle to the perfect spot to get a good vantage point to watch the troops extinguish the fire. (Apparently not?)
“After the fire was knocked down I exited my vehicle to get a pole number for Edison. When I arrived at the pole approximately 100 yards away I heard the sound of a tree falling. The photos tell the rest of the story.
“It was surprising that the tree fell. The winds were maybe 25 to 30 mph and the tree was alive. The tree was approximately 40 inches in diameter. (30mph Hour winds, rain saturated ground? I'm surprised your surprised?)
“If the fire had been larger I would have been working out of the command module in the rear of the vehicle. If this had been the case I would not be alive.”(Or if I parked elsewhere...)
Fellow Battalion Chief Dan Munsey jokingly observed that Benfield worked as a firefighter in Lake Arrowhead for several years. Munsey stated with obvious hyperbole, “He comes here and his truck gets hit by the only tree in town.”(Loving it!)
Benfield wrapped up his report with the sage observation, “I’m not sure if there is a safety message we can all learn from here, but you can bet I will never look at trees the same way again.” (Lesson learned: Check area for Hazard tree indications such as cracked ground, lifted pavement, Do not park city equipment under trees?)
Source article: Hi-Desert News - Link with snarky editorial comment added by California Fire News