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Firefighters Recovering From So-Cal Crash

Three local area California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighters injured yesterday when their fire engine careened off a San Bernardino freeway and rolled down a 60-foot embankment are recovering in a southern California hospital this afternoon.

The crew from the West Point CDF station is part of a five-engine strike team assigned to cover a San Bernardino CDF fire station in Lucerne Valley, whose crews are currently working on the Pines Fire near Julian in San Diego County.

CDF spokeswoman Annette Roessler says crew members 34 year-old fire engineer Tim Valadez, 26 year-old firefighter Westly Gissell, and 19 year-old firefighter Justin Andrews, where traveling on Interstate-15 responding to a wildfire when a mechanical malfunction sent the truck rolling off the freeway in the Cajon Pass.

The accident occurred on Southbound I-15 south of Highway 138. They were responding to assist on a fire in the Lytle Creek area.

Andrews and Gissell are in stable condition. Valadez remains listed in critical condition. CDF says none of the injuries appear to be life threatening at this time.

Family members of the injured firefighters and staff from the Tuolumne/Calaveras Unit arrived in the San Bernardino area early this morning. CDF officials have escorted them to Loma Linda University Medical Center in Redlands to be with their loved ones.

A concurrent investigation has been started by a CHP Major Accident Investigation Team and a CDF Serious Incident Investigation Team.