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SELLS, ARIZONA The US Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, BIA, Papago Agency, released it Preliminary Report on the incident that involved the death of Anthony Polk, 31, a Bureau of Indian Affairs Engine Crew firefighter for Fort Yuma Agency.
Accident resulted in the death of Anthony Polk, 31,
a Bureau of Indian Affairs Engine Crew Firefighter
Polk died last Friday while on his way to assist with a wildland fire suppression operation at the Montezuma Fire that began on May 30. The 1,700 acres fire is located 20 miles south of Sells, Arizona on the Papago Agency and as of last Friday was 80 percent contained.
The Preliminary Report reads in part:
"A Bureau of Indian Affairs Type V engine with three personnel aboard were traveling to the fire when the engine left the roadway and overturned The engine from Fort Yuma Agency was traveling south of Sells, Arizona on the Bureau of Indian Affairs Service Route road system through the Papago Agency on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation in southwest Arizona. The engine was a Task Force convoy configuration to being a operational period on the south end of the fire. Approximately five miles south of town, the engine left the roadway and overturned coming to a rest on the shoulder of the road."
The accident is under investigation by an Interagency Serious Accident Investigation team so the fire community can learn what happened to prevent such tragic accidents from occurring in the future. No further information will be available until the final report is released with the family and through the agency, which may take several months.
The Preliminary Report does not indicate what caused the tragedy, which resulted in Fire Fighter Polk's death. The two other firefighters on board were taken to the hospital where one was treated and released.
The other firefighter, Andrew Rosales, was admitted to University Medical Center on the evening of June 8 with neck and back injuries. Early in the next morning, he was put into a "halo" (head/neck brace) to secure movement of his head related to his injuries. Members of his family have been present during Rosales's stay in the hospital and have been being taken care of with help from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.
On Monday, doctors authorized his release and he was cleared to go home to Yuma. Due to the distance of travel, Rosales and his family spent the night in Tucson and traveled to Yuma yesterday.
Rosales is in "good spirits" and was happy to be going home.
Funeral arrangements for Firefighter Polk were not released at press time.
posted June 13, 2012 9:30 am edt