Faller fatally struck by dangerous tree during wildfire suppression
Date of incident: July 2015
Notice of incident number: 2015163750118
Employer: Manual tree falling and bucking company
A faller was falling dangerous trees as part of wildfire suppression activities. He felled a Douglas-fir tree, and then a nearby cedar tree fell and struck him. The faller was pinned between this second tree and the Douglas-fir stump. He sustained fatal injuries.
- Instability of cedar tree was not recognized. The initial assessment of the incident area identified all the cedar trees as dangerous trees with fire-damaged root systems as well as internal burning. This assessment was done early on the day of the incident. The time between the assessment and the arrival of the faller at the Douglas-fir was approximately two and a half hours. During this time, it is likely that the cedar tree had become more unstable because of the internal fire damage. This condition and the hazard it created was not fully recognized by the faller when he began falling the Douglas-fir. The cedar tree broke as a result of the internal fire damage and struck the faller, fatally injuring him.
- Environmental conditions. There were active wildfire conditions on the day of the incident, which decreased the stability of all the trees in the area.