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Bulldozers are essential during the fire fight, but can turn fatal

Firefighters are mourning the loss of bulldozer operators who’ve died battling the wildfires raging in Shasta County and near Yosemite National Park.While dozers are essential part of the firefight, they say they’re one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment.

Bulldozers are used for plowing through flames, brush and trees.

“They’re taking the vegetation off the ground down the bare dirt,” explained a spokesman for CAL FIRE in San Luis Obispo, Chris Elms.

“We’re dealing with larger fires than we’ve ever seen, more destructive fires than we’ve ever seen, and they’re moving faster,” Elms continued.

The fires have already claimed eight lives.

“When we go out to do our job there’s always that inherent risk. But our heart goes out to the families and the coworkers of the guys that are out there risking their lives,” said Elms.

One of the most recent fatalities involved a dozer driver who died battling the Carr fire in Shasta County.

“The biggest risks for thee dozers is usually rollover,” explained Elms. “They get into very steep terrain…sometimes the ground is not great, and they lose traction, they can slide sideways, they start to roll over.”

That’s why dozer operators must go through extensive training.

“[It’s] about a 22-week process for them to go from start to finish.”

CAL FIRE in SLO says there are about 60 fire fighting bulldozers across the state. This department has sent two dozers to the Ferguson fire by Yosemite Park.

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