MONTEREY (CBS SF) — Three were injured, one critically, when a group of firefighters were forced to cover under fire shelters after being overwhelmed by flames from the exploding Dolan Fire near Big Sur, with two of them airlifted to a hospital in Fresno Tuesday, officials said.

Fifteen firefighters were involved in a shelter deployment Tuesday at around 8:30 a.m. in the vicinity of Nacimiento Station in the Los Padres National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service reported. The Nacimiento Station was destroyed, according to the forest service.

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A statement from incident commander Rob Allen said two firefighters were airlifted to a hospital and that one was in critical condition, the other in serious condition, with injuries including burns and smoke inhalation. At a 2 p.m. press conference, officials clarified there were three firefighters injured among the 15 firefighters who had to deploy shelters.

A smoke column building in the Santa Lucia Mountains, California on the afternoon of September 6, 2020.
(Jacob Welsh/U.S. Forest Service)

“The individuals that were involved in the burnover last night at the Nacimiento Guard station were mostly forest service employees and a couple of contractors that were dozer operators with us and we’ve got them all out, said Allen at a 2 p.m. press conference. “They’re all being treated for varying degrees of medical issues and making sure that they’re all okay but for the most part we got everybody out of harm’s way and we’re looking good.”

The Dolan Fire, which began August 18 about 10 miles south of Big Sur near Dolan Road and Highway 1, doubled in size overnight, prompting new evacuations south of the fire, according to the forest service. It has burned 73,000 acres and was 40 percent contained as of Tuesday morning.

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The advancing fire changed some evacuation warnings to evacuation orders and prompted additional evacuation warnings. Evacuation map

A suspect, identified as 30-year-old Fresno resident Ivan Gomez, has been arrested on arson charges in connection to the fire. Gomez was first detained on August 18 near the origin of the fire in the John Little State Natural Reserve.

Dolan Fire arson suspect Ivan Gomez (Monterey County Sheriff’s Office)

He was booked into the Monterey County Jail for arson of forest lands and held on $2 million bail.

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