Flashover burns fire capt. in live-fire training

Crew forced to crawl out of building when hose became inoperable during controlled burn exercise

THATCHER, Ariz. — A fire captain suffered third-degree burns during a flashover at live-fire training in Ariz.

A crew was forced to crawl out of the house in Thatcher on their hands and knees when their hose became inoperable, according to The Eastern Arizona Courier.

However, they became separated as they attempted to leave due to low visibility. Capt. Rob Casillas, 40, didn't realize the other firefighters had followed the line through the back door, and he returned to the burning room to see if his crew mates were still there, the article said.

After realizing they had exited, he began to make his way out when the room flashed over.

He was taken to the hospital with third-degree burns to his hands, head and back. One of the firefighters who had earlier crawled out of the building suffered minor burns to his knees.

Thatcher Fire Chief Mike Payne praised Capt. Casillas' clear thinking in getting out of the building Saturday.

"He kept his head and did what he was trained to do and was able to find his way out," Chief Payne told the newspaper.

"He didn't panic. He kept his cool ...There was a lot of stuff he could have done that could have got him in more trouble ... When that room flashes over, there's not very many firefighters who survive it, so we feel like he was real fortunate in that (regard.)"

The department is investigating the incident. The hose line became inoperable when it was burned in the fire, according the article.

Thatcher is southeast of Phoenix off I-70. The volunteer fire department has about 30 members and a Class 4 ISO rating.

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