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Saturday, November 26, 2011

CA-TCU: CAL FIRE Injured fire captain in stable condition

 Cal Fire captain Arrouzet is in stable condition after being severely injured while fighting a fire in Copperopolis earlier this month.
Sue Arrouzet, 45, of Tracy, sustained a serious back injury when part of a house that was on fire collapsed on Nov. 12. 

  Cal Fire was assisting the Copperopolis Fire Protection District with the structure fire on Glen Side Court. The fire was reported by the residents, who got out unharmed.
    Arrouzet, a 22-year Cal Fire employee, was injured when part of the burning roof collapsed on her, according to Cal Fire spokeswoman Julie Hutchinson.
    Arrouzet was transported by helicopter to Doctors Medical Center of Modesto in serious condition. She was later transferred to UC San Francisco Medical Center for further treatment, according to Hutchinson.
    Her condition has improved to stable within the past few days, Hutchinson said.
    “Everybody’s pulling for her to make a full recovery and get back to doing the job she loves,” Hutchinson said.
    Arrouzet was moved to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on Tuesday to begin her rehabilitation.
    “Sue and her family are sincerely thankful for the generous well wishes and offers of monetary donations,” a Cal Fire news release said.
    Arrouzet has requested any monetary donations be made to the Ken Onstad Benevolent Fund, 785 Mountain Ranch, San Andreas, according to the news release. The fund was established in 1988 to provide Cal Fire Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit employees and their families with assistance in the event of injury, illness or tragedy. Cal Fire asked Arrouzet’s name be indicated on the donation.
    The cause of the fire that injured Arrouzet is still under investigation by the Copperopolis Fire Protection District with the assistance of investigators from Cal Fire, according to Jeff Millar, fire chief for the district.
    Millar said investigations into fires that cause major injuries usually take longer than others.
    “Whenever there is a serious injury, the investigators want to be very careful to exhaust every explanation for the fire,” he said.
    The Copperopolis Fire Protection District works closely with Cal Fire’s Copperopolis station on all fire calls, Millar said. In fact, the facilities for each department are across the street from each other.
    “They’re our partners, they’re our friends and, in a way, we feel like they’re part of our department,” he said. “So it’s like it happened to a member of our department as well.”
    Arrouzet’s direct supervisor, Mario Hernandez, a battalion chief for Cal Fire who oversees the Murphys, Altaville and Copperopolis stations, said he has worked with Arrouzet at the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit for the past 20 years.
    Hernandez is in constant contact with Arrouzet and her family and went to visit her on Tuesday when she was being moved to the rehabilitation center.
    “If you personally know Sue, then you know that the same excitement she had before the injury she still has now,” he said. “It doesn’t surprise any of us that she has continued her great attitude moving forward in her recovery.”
    He said she was taken around outside the rehab facility in a wheelchair to catch some sunshine when she first arrived.
    She has a large support network including eight siblings, four of whom are firefighters, and her father, who is a retired San Francisco firefighter, according to Hernandez.
    Hernandez said the fire that injured Arrouzet is a solemn reminder of the dangers firefighters face.
    “It’s always a distressing situation seeing it happen and then dealing with it,” he said. “It takes your breath away and makes you think about the job we do.”


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    ****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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