According to the Douglas Fire Department, a swarm of 800,000 Africanized bees killed one landscaper and critically injured another Wednesday during an attack in southern Arizona. Family members have confirmed the name of the man who died was Reymundo Moreno, 32, of Jecori, Sonora, Mexico.
The 32-year-old man, whose face and neck were covered with bees, died at a nearby hospital after suffering a heart attack, authorities said. The other injured man was stung more than 100 times, but was treated and released. However the names and status of the other injured people is not yet known.
Douglas Fire Chief Mario Novoa said the landscapers were attacked around 10:30 a.m. while working near the hive, which was in the attic of a nearby home. “The exterminator found a bee hive approximately three-by-eight feet,” he said. “Inside, he estimated the actual bees to be 800,000 bees inside the hive itself.”
A beekeeper later exterminated the hive of bees and a portion of the home’s roof was torn off. The hive was estimated to be approximately 10 years old. It’s still unclear whether the homeowner knew about the massive hive or not.
The dead man and his injured co-worker were with the Douglas ARC, which finds jobs for people with developmental disabilities, said Fire Chief Mario Novoa. They were part of a four-man crew cutting grass and weeding for the 90-year-old homeowner, who was not stung. Two other workers who were stung refused treatment, and a neighbor drove herself to Cochise Regional Hospital for treatment of her stings.
A four-block area was cordoned off after the 10:30 a.m. report of the bee attack. Firefighters in protective bee suits, which are standard equipment in Douglas, first removed part of the eaves and roof before pulling down the ceiling.
The heavy nest filled a 55-gallon drum after extermination, Novoa said. Foam and poison were used to remove the bees.
“At this time the house is uninhabitable,” the chief said.
He also added that his department receives one or two calls a week about bee swarms or hives, but nothing ever compared to Wednesday’s attack.
Douglas is located on the border with Mexico, about 120 miles southeast of Tucson.
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