GREEN VALLEY, AZ - A southern Arizona fire department was trying to determine Thursday how a 100-foot ladder on one of its trucks suddenly retracted during a public relations event, injuring a firefighter and four people taking part in the event.
The firefighter and one of the participants were released after treatment at a Tucson hospital, said Green Valley Fire District spokesman Capt. Tom Louis. Three others remained hospitalized Thursday with non-life threatening injuries. No identities have been released.
Two men and two women were being taken up in the ladder's bucket late Wednesday afternoon when the upper section of the nearly fully-extended ladder boom suddenly retracted, Louis said. No one was thrown from the bucket because they were all wearing safety belts and tied to the bucket.
Firefighters didn't want to try to retract the boom the rest of the way, so they called in a ladder truck from a nearby department to rescue the five occupants.
The four participants had visited the firehouse for a meal and were offered lifts in the budget afterward.
Louis would not identify the people, but the Green Valley News identified them as the president of the local Rotary Club, his wife and another couple. The second couple had purchased a meal with firefighters at a Rotary fundraiser.
"These are such wonderful people and I'm just glad that we were blessed to be with them when this happened and that they were not out on a real emergency," Tom Brown, the man who bought the dinner tickets, told the paper.
The paper reported the four participants had fractures to their legs, feet or arms.
The truck's manufacturer was sending a representative to examine the boom. The Pima County Sheriff's Department and Arizona Department of Public safety were also investigating.
Louis, the fire district captain, called the accident unprecedented for the department and highly unusual for such equipment.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Did You Hear?
What happens if you beat the tough odds and hold the winner Powerball ticket? You celebrate. Then what?
There was a lot happening in the news around Arizona this past week. How much of it do you remember?
The IRS is currently under fire for apparently targeting conservative groups.
More Central/Southern News
A teacher at Ironwood Ridge High School is being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a female student.