Montana Firefighter Being Treated At Utah Burn Center
SALT LAKE CITY – A Montana firefighter is being treated at the University of Utah’s Burn Center after he was severely burned while battling the Harris Fire, which has burned 2,700 acres in southern Montana.
Dan Steffensen from Red Lodge Fire Rescue was listed in serious condition with significant burns to his body.
An air ambulance transported him to the U. Friday after winds shifted fire activity toward Steffensen and his fire engine.
Chief Tom Kuntz with Red Lodge Fire Rescue said Steffensen is now recovering from successful surgery, and his recovery could take up to six months.
“I was able to travel to Salt Lake and sit with Dan and express the love and faith that people have had,” said Kuntz.
He added Steffensen’s absence from the Red Lodge Fire Rescue was being felt in the community.
A strong wind surge fanned flames that overwhelmed Steffenson as he worked the Harris Hill Fire near Joliet, Montana, which was 80% contained Monday night.
The Harris Hill Fire located near Joliet reached 2,500 acres today.https://t.co/Sh2VnWkDOX
— NBC Montana (@NBCMontana) July 17, 2021
“Our firefighters, we respect them a lot, and our prayers are with him,” Kuntz said.
As dozens of wildfires raged across the country, doctors at the University of Utah Burn Center have been busy treating those on the front-lines.
“Our census has not been any less than about 25 patients and we’re peaking pretty high right now,” said Dr. Giavonni Lewis, director of the University of Utah Burn Center.
“About 63,000 firefighters are injured in the line of duty,” said Lewis. “Typically, we see burns of the face, ears, neck, wrists, hands (and) knees. About 3,000 of those injuries are related to burns and smoke inhalation.”
Smoke inhalation injuries can require up to three weeks on a ventilator.
Lewis said the number of injured firefighters has taken a toll on her staff.
“So, if you can support our firefighters by reducing the risk of wildland fires that would be the best,” she explained.
With the Pioneer Day holiday coming up, she urged people to be responsible and keep in mind the risks firefighters like Steffensen take to keep us safe.
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