A woman was critically injured after being stung “hundreds of times” by a swarm of bees in Lake Forest Monday morning, and three others — including two firefighters — were also injured, officials said.
The incident occurred about 10:25 a.m. when firefighters responded to a report of a bee sting in the 23000 block of Buckland Lane, the Orange County Fire Authority tweeted.
The woman was basically covered with bees from head to toe when officials arrived, said Ryan Wilson, one of the four firefighters credited with saving her life.
“As we approached her — I got maybe 15, 20 feet from her — and I could see clumps of bees all over her body,” Wilson told KTLA.
Several hundred were on her face alone, “in her hair, just kind of intertwined and kind of engulfed her whole head,” Wilson said. “They were in sheets, kind of, attached to her all over — in her ear, her neck.”
The swarm was so severe that firefighters didn't have time to put the special safety gear on that they would normally wear while responding to such incidents, according to Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito.
“They got out, they started felling the bees, they saw the patient down this cul-de-sac completely covered — her face was completely covered with bees," he said.
They grabbed an extinguisher in an effort to remove the bulk of the bees off of the victim, then “basically dragged” her to a safe area about 200 yards away.
“She was kind of just struck over with fear, and I kept grabbing her, telling her, ‘Let’s go,’ and she had bees all over her arms," Wilson said. "So we made the decision just to grab her, and take off and get out of the area, because we didn’t know where the bees were coming from.”
The woman, a 48-year-old housekeeper named Maria, had gone out to a vehicle to grab cleaning supplies when she was attacked, according to the homeowner.
The victim was stung at least 200 times, fire officials said, and she was taken to a hospital in critical condition. A beekeeper who removed the hive estimated there were between 60,000 and 80,000 bees.
The woman was intubated an the intensive care unit Monday night, her family told firefighters, but was expected to recover and be released within the next few days.
The firefighters were also stung “multiple times” and taken to a hospital in stable condition, but returned to work later Monday afternoon.
A few hours after, an ambulance was sent to the home to transport the homeowner, who was also stung but didn't feel or complain about symptoms until later. Her condition was not immediately known.
KTLA's Erika Martin contributed to this report.