San Diego

Inmate Firefighter Dies of Injuries After Battling Brush Fire Near Lakeside

His death marks the second for an inmate firefighter this year, and the fifth since the conservation program was founded in the 1940s

An inmate firefighter died Tuesday from injuries sustained with a chainsaw while battling a brush fire near Lakeside, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

A chainsaw was involved in the fatal incident, confirmed CDCR spokesman Bill Sessa. It was not yet clear how the victim was injured with the chainsaw. There is an investigation underway from Cal Fire.

“We are saddened by the death of Frank Anaya, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” said CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan, in a statement. 

CDCR officials said Anaya, 22, was working to extinguish a brush fire on July 5, when his leg was severely cut. Other firefighters at the scene immediately performed advanced life support care and performed CPR.

“Anaya provided an invaluable public service and helped protect our communities from devastating fires," added Kernan.

He was rushed to a hospital where he underwent multiple surgeries, said CDCR officials. Unfortunately, one of the main arteries in his leg was damaged.

Anaya underwent multiple surgeries but succumbed to his injuries at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday in the hospital.

The inmate firefighter was serving a three-year sentence at the La Cima Conservation Camp in San Diego County. He began working for CDCR in September 2016.

There are about 3,900 volunteer inmates housed in 43 conservation camps operated by CDCR, Cal Fire and the LA County Fire Department. The inmate fire crews work in groups of 12 to 17 members.

They often work in rugged backcountry conditions, using hand tools to cut containment lines and stop the spread of wildfires, said CDCR officials.

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