Incident Name: Unknown
Date: 9/24/07 1414 hrs
Personnel: Bryon Wayne Johnson
Agency/Organization: Sedgwick Co Fire Dist #1, Wichita, KS
Summary: The fire department communications center received several calls reporting a brush fire that may have been caused by downed powerlines. Squad 34, under the command of Lieutenant Bryon Johnson, responded to the call but did not acknowledge the message about powerlines.
When the unit arrived on the scene, powerlines were visible in the street. Firefighters advanced a handline and began to control the fire. In order to access a portion of the fire, the apparatus had to be backed up. Lieutenant Johnson advanced the hoseline, and his engineer drove the apparatus. The two firefighters communicated by hand signal.
Lieutenant Johnson was hitting hot spots with the handline. His engineer viewed him in the rearview mirror. The engineer saw Lieutenant Johnson stiffen and fall. The engineer stopped the apparatus, got out, and found Lieutenant Johnson on his back. He was taken by air ambulance in critical condition to Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St Francis Campus where he passed away within an hour.
Downed powerline fatality location near Hayesville KS
- USFA Database: Bryon Wayne Johnson
- WLF Hotlist LODD Thread: KS-wildland fire death from downed electrical wire
- Kan. firefighter dies after powerline shock
9/27/2007 | Online Article by By Tim Potter and Stan Finger of The Wichita EagleSEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. — An accident that claimed a Sedgwick County firefighter's life Monday afternoon south of Haysville began as a series of seemingly mundane problems.
A tractor-trailer rig passed detour signs and ended up on a stretch of South Broadway where it wasn't supposed to be, sheriff's Lt. George Mason said. The truck had to turn around because a bridge on South Broadway near 95th Street was closed for construction. According to a witness, the rig struck a utility pole, causing a live wire to fall and ignite a grass fire near houses.
The situation turned fatal when a Sedgwick County firefighter battling the wind-whipped flames came into contact with the wire at about 2:15 p.m. and was severely shocked, Mason said. Sedgwick County fire Division Chief Carl Cox noted how it started out as a "relatively routine incident."
"Sometimes those are the worst," Cox said Monday evening as he stood outside Station 34, on the west side of Haysville, where the firefighter was based.
The firefighter, in his 30s, was taken by air ambulance in critical condition to Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Francis Campus. Within an hour, Mason announced that the firefighter had died. Sedgwick County officials expected to release the firefighter's name today.
"He gave the ultimate sacrifice to the citizens of Sedgwick County, doing what he loved to do," said Cox, who had known the firefighter since he was a rookie. The firefighter "went down immediately" after coming into contact with the wire just north of Broadway and 95th South, Mason said. He had responded to the fire with other crew members.
The last Sedgwick County firefighter to die in the line of duty was Todd Colton, said Deputy Fire Chief Rick Brazill. Colton died of heat exhaustion while fighting a 75-acre brush and grass fire near Mulvane in September 1990.
Investigators said they were treating Monday's incident as a possible hit-and-run accident. According to at least one witness, the truck turned back north and drove off after striking the pole, Mason said. Witnesses reported seeing a woman driving the truck.
Construction crews working on the bridge on Broadway near 95th saw the accident and called 911. Sedgwick County authorities relayed descriptions of the truck and driver to the Kansas Highway Patrol and Sumner County authorities.
Based on witness descriptions, authorities contacted a local trucking company, which reached a female driver who admitted she had been in the area of the accident and had turned around, Mason said.
After driving roughly 80 miles south from the accident scene into Oklahoma, she drove back to Sedgwick County for questioning Monday night, Mason said. He said she had not been arrested. "This is an accident," Mason said. Mason said he didn't know if the driver realized the truck had hit the pole.
Because of the bridge work, the part of South Broadway where the accident occurred has been closed to all but local traffic. The stretch is marked with large detour signs at 79th and 87th streets, north of the accident scene, Mason said.
Mike Smith, who lives in the area, said truck drivers have been ignoring the "No Through Traffic" signs and driving onto the closed bridge. Realizing they can't get past, he said, they turn around — and several have hit a power pole in the process.
"It's really a problem," he said.
- Kansas State Assoiciation of Fire Chiefs: Fallen Firefighter Page
- Obituary submitted by his wife
- Byron is survived by his wife and two sons, Aeron and Jacob
- Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St Francis Campus (37.700321, -97.331757)
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