(Victor Valley)– A driver, who due to a traffic collision, was trapped in his vehicle on top of a broken live natural gas line is recovering from critical injuries today in a trauma center thanks to the quick thinking actions provided by crews from the San Bernardino County Fire Department.
San Bernardino County Fire Department responded to a reported traffic collision with two engine companies and a Battalion Chief last night at approximately 8:30 p.m. at the intersection of Rancho Rd. and Adelanto Rd. The first-in engine company found a single vehicle that had rolled over and landed upside down on above ground high pressure valves which control natural gas. Firefighters observed one occupant who was trapped but waving an arm. This victim was considered viable and needed to be extracted from the situation.
Firefighters, with the assistance of several San Bernardino County Sheriff Deputies, secured a ½ mile safety perimeter due to the volatility of the spewing natural gas into the air. Due to the amount of natural gas escaping the pipes, the first attempt to rescue the driver was unsuccessful. The potential hazard of the product igniting created an unsafe area for fire department personnel. With the additional resources, firefighters were able to set up hose lines and apply a light spray of water over the vehicle to help dissipate and mitigate the chance of ignition. Other firefighters in safety gear and breathing apparatus made a second entry to rescue the driver. This second rescue took some time because the driver was pinned and special hand tools were needed to extricate him from the wrecked vehicle.
The driver was extracted to a safe area where he was treated by San Bernardino County Fire Department paramedics as well as an AMR crew. The driver was then transferred to an awaiting Mercy Air helicopter for transport to a trauma center due to his critical injuries.
South West Gas Company representatives were on scene and had the broken lines secured approximately 45 minutes later. They were assisted by the engine companies at scene who acted as a safety team and manned hose lines in case of any ignition of the product being released from the broken lines. At any time, a simple spark or static electricity mixed with the right combination of air and natural gas could have proved devastating for not only the victim but firefighting personnel working near the broken lines.
Safety Message: Please remember that when an emergency vehicle is approaching to move your car to the right as safely as possible. If you find yourself in an intersection, please remember to stay put and allow the emergency vehicle to pass.