Esperanza engine crew, seven years ago today

Engine 57

Engine 57It was seven years ago today that five U.S. Forest Service wildland firefighters died on the Esperanza fire near Cabazon, California on October 26, 2006. Killed were engine Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser, 44, of Idyllwild; engine operator Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; assistant engine operator Jason McKay, 27, of Phelan; and firefighter Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto. A fifth firefighter Pablo Cerda, 23, of Fountain Valley, who was injured along with the other four, passed away on October 31. The five firefighters comprised the crew of a wildland engine, Engine 57, from the San Bernardino National Forest.

They were assigned to a state managed fire approximately 60 miles east of Los Angeles and were entrapped while protecting a structure. The crew and their supervisors were not aware of the location of the fire relative to the location of the firefighters. The fire overran their position.

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UPDATE November 12, 2013:

Esperanza Fire Factual Report, and the USDA Office of Inspector General’s Report on the fire.

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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