It seems to be inevitable each season. Although as a community of professionals we would like to think that the ability to see our way through a wildfire season without a single fatality is achievable, the reality remains that fighting fires is dangerous. It isn't always the fire that claims the life, but it seems that more often than not it is the fire which is a contributing factor to the loss of life. The first fatality of 2009 is not different. Our condolences go out to the survivors and family of the firefighter whom has lost his life in this horrific incident. It is our hope that we, as a community of firefighters, can take a moment to recognize the contributions of a fallen firefighter. May this fatality cause all of us to pause, if only for a moment, to consider our actions and the situations we are asked to engage in. It is our hope that we will continue to respect the dangerous nature of our jobs, and take the necessary precautions to ensure that we remain safe this 2009 fire season.
Name: John C. Myers
Years of Service: 6
Date of Incident: 01/03/2009
Time of Incident: 1533hrs
Date of Death: 01/03/2009
Fire Department: Union Chapel Volunteer Fire Department
Incident Description: Firefighter John C. Myers passed away from injuries received in a motor vehicle accident while working at the scene of an outdoor grass fire.
Myers was operating a fire department vehicle and traveling south on County Road Wesley, near the Pittsburg County line (OK), when his son, Firefighter Juston Myers, also working the fire and operating a privately owned vehicle heading north on CR Wesley, crossed left of center on the narrow gravel road in heavy smoke obstructed conditions and collided head on with the fire department vehicle his father was driving.
Personnel from several fire departments in the area worked for more than an hour and a half to free Firefighter John C. Myers from the wreckage. Firefighter Juston Myers and a passenger in the privately owned vehicle were both injured in the accident. Juston was treated at the scene and his passenger, Clayton Rice, was taken to a nearby hospital with head, leg and arm injuries.
Incident Location: On County Road Wesley, USNG: 15S TU 3497 3518 (6.67km due east of US Hwy 69), Atoka County, OK.
Seatbelts: Equipped and not in use both vehicles.
This is the first US wildland fire fatality for 2009.