Fire crew member dies battling blaze near Napa Valley wineries

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- Officials said a fire crew member died Monday after veering off Oakville Grade Road near a wildfire that was getting dangerously close to wineries in Napa.

RELATED: Nuns Fire threatens Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville

Cal Fire officials said the fire crew member was driving down one of Napa County's steepest roads towards Highway 29 before it veered off the road. "Somewhere on this steep road something happened, he lost control and the water tender rolled in an upside down position down the grade," a Cal Fire official said.

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Cal Fire said a private water tender driver was heading down Oakville Grade Road about two miles west of Highway 29 in Napa County when the vehicle slid off the side of the embankment and flipped over on to its top. "This morning we tragically lost a member of our firefighting community," Cal Fire spokesperson Staff Chief David Shew said.

Cal Fire said they don't know why the driver went off the road, but they will look into the possibility fatigue was a factor. "There has been no break for these firefighters since the fires erupted last Sunday evening. And so yes, people are getting tired and that is a factor that we are aware of," Shew said.

The Nuns Fire where this water tender was very much needed continues to be a major battle. An evacuation advisory is in place just below where the crash took place.

Flames could be seen slowly making their way down the hillside above the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville.

Firefighters said they will make a stand at the bottom of the hill. "We are doing backfires and allowing the fire to come down to a controllable point where it makes it easier for us to maintain control of that fire," Shew said.

The driver's name is not being released until the family is notified about the death.

Crews are at the scene, along with wild life officials who are working to get the diesel fuel cleaned up.

Officials are investigating to determine what caused the fire crew member to lose control of the water tender and fall down the grade.

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