A wall of flames near Wellston was too much for Iowa Tribe volunteer firefighter David Milby on Thursday, sending him to an Oklahoma City hospital with burns over 26 percent of his body, officials said.
Milby, 60, was in critical condition Friday with second- and third-degree burns on his face, back and arms, said Brooke Cayot, spokeswoman for Integris Baptist Medical Center.
"He is a knowledgeable firefighter, that is why it is a little unsettling,” said Lt. Gene Big Soldier of the Iowa Tribe Volunteer Fire Department. "It is hard to believe that he would end up in that kind of situation. It shows the extreme condition of the fire.
"It is one freak accident.”
Milby, of Stillwater, is the training officer for the 20-member volunteer fire department stationed south of Perkins.
His partner and driver, Jeff Bayhylle, was treated for injuries and released from a hospital Thursday evening, Big Soldier said.
"There were heavy smoke, mass confusion and mass congestion,” Big Soldier said. "They got stuck in the mud in a field. Once they realized what was happening, they tried to take cover and the fire blew right over the truck. It happened in a matter of seconds.”
Destroyed by the fire was a new $60,000 brush rig. Big Soldier said the rig was certified two weeks ago for a federal government contract to fight wildfires across the United States.
Tribal leaders Friday were asking for prayers for Milby and his family.
"He was an excellent firefighter and a tough old guy,” Big Soldier said. "He touched a lot of people’s lives. We are asking for a lot of prayers for his speedy recovery.”