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Calif. FFs, USAR team rescue woman trapped in septic tank

A rope rescue system was used to raise a Fontana woman from an old septic tank 25 feet below the ground

By Nathan Solis
Los Angeles Times

FONTANA, Calif. — Firefighters rescued a woman who fell about 25 feet into an out-of-use septic tank in Fontana on Thursday morning, authorities announced, adding that she was conscious throughout the ordeal.

The San Bernardino County Fire Dept . was on the scene of the rescue at a home at 8200 Cherry Avenue, the agency posted on social media shortly after 10 a.m. Initially, the fire agency reported that the woman fell into a sinkhole, but later clarified that the hole was in fact an old septic tank that was no longer in use. The woman lived at the residence and when she walked over the top of the septic tank the ground gave way along with the concrete top of the tank, according to San Bernardino County Fire Dept. PIO Eric Sherwin.

While the woman was able to speak with her rescuers, firefighters were unable to see her from the surface, according to the agency.

Images shared by the fire agency showed firefighters crouched around the hole, some lying on their bellies as they peered down. Members of the San Bernardino County Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue team arrived to assist with the confined rescue operation.

A firefighter was lowered into the hole via rope and other equipment as other rescuers held onto a pulley system rigged up at the surface. Shortly before 12 p.m. the woman was pulled out in the firefighter’s arms, according to a photo shared by the fire agency. The woman was evaluated by paramedics at the scene and taken to a hospital for an evaluation of injuries to the lower part of her body.

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