Smokejumper killed in northern California

(Originally published at 11:12 a.m. MT, June 11, 2013; updated at 12:30 p.m. MT, June 11, 2013)

The U.S. Forest Service has released the following statement:

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“US Forest Service wildland firefighter dies in Northern California

Release Date: Jun 11, 2013

VALLEJO, Calif. – A 28-year-old firefighter from Susanville, Calif., died Monday afternoon [June 10] as a result of injuries received on a wildfire on the Modoc National Forest in northeast California. Luke Sheehy was a member of the California Smokejumpers, based out of Redding.

Sheehy was struck by a falling portion of a tree on the Saddle Back Fire in the South Warner Wilderness about 15 miles southeast of Alturas, Calif. The incident occurred just before 5 p.m. Efforts to resuscitate Sheehy were not successful. He was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Alturas where he was pronounced dead.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of this brave young smokejumper who lost his life yesterday working with his team to control a blaze on the Modoc National Forest,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “We are launching a full review into the cause of his death to learn everything we can to prevent future tragedies like this.”

Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore echoed Chief Tidwell’s sentiments. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. It’s a devastating loss and is being felt throughout the entire Forest Service.”

The Saddle Back Fire is one of several dozen lightning-caused fires that began on multiple national forests throughout northern California on Sunday and Monday. It was first reported to the Modoc Interagency Communications Center about 3 p.m. Monday. Several U.S. Forest Service firefighters remain on scene suppressing the fire.”

(end of statement)

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About 8,000 lightning strikes were recorded in northern California Sunday and Monday. As of Tuesday morning over 60 small fires had been detected.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family and co-workers of the jumper.

We will update this article as more details emerge.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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14 thoughts on “Smokejumper killed in northern California”

  1. Crap. And it’s barely June.
    Sympathies to the Redding crew and other family.
    Heads up out there, everyone. Could be one of those seasons.

  2. R.I.P. Jumper. 🙁

    y’all keep an eye out for dead-falls / widow makers.

    We had about 600 fires since January 2013. this year is going to be a recap of the 2007(ish) fire storms we had in Nor Cal, because of the lack of rain we have had.

    this is exactly why they (damn tree huggers) NEED to let us do larger RX burns.

  3. As a young boy living in Susanville I recall the tragedy of one of our neighbours who died fighting a fire, I grieve for the family of the young man. As a Danger Tree Instructor here in BC and knowing the difference of the US safety systems I would recommend having a look at our BC Wildfire Doanger Tree Assessment system. It is more onerous for coordinating the assessing and releasing areas for firefighters to work in but I believe the safety statistics are evident of fewer injuries and fatalities.

  4. Thank you for you report
    God be with all invoked
    Can you report on how we can help out
    He hase alot of bouther and sisters
    Firefighters that would like to help
    Out in some way
    Thank you
    Be Safe
    Larry Fielden
    Sanger Ca

  5. God bless you Luke for your service and duty. I worked on a fire with luke three weeks ago in the Shasta Trinity and just wanted to say that my family’s prayers are with you and we are very sad to hear the news.

  6. RIP Luke! Now is not the time for blame or to sell your point but to reach out and deal with the loss. Pray that this be the only one this year and ask for God to give peace to the loved ones left here.

  7. RIP brother. Northern Arizona Fire crews took a moment of silence today for you. Will be looking for family info for donations to help out.

  8. Although we are seperated by borders and geography, we feel the loss as though Luke was one of our own. Prayers and condolences to Luke’s family and coworkers from North of the 49th.

  9. From a fellow brother in wildfire, north of the 49th.
    RIP Luke
    My thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
    To those still standing, I wish you all a safe summer.

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