Montana Fire Chief dies one month after vehicle accident

Dave Anderson, a volunteer Fire Chief in Fort Shaw, Montana died Monday, a month after he was injured in a traffic accident. Cascade County Deputy Coroner Jason Boyd said the Chief died as a result of injuries suffered in the crash, along with cardiac complications. The Montana Highway Patrol said he was driving a water tender on U.S. Highway 89 on July 22 when his vehicle collided with a brush truck that was making a U-turn because the driver had missed a turnoff.

On June 19 another Montana firefighter and a family of five was killed when the fire engine driven by Three Forks Fire Chief Todd Rummel experienced a mechanical problem that locked up one of the wheels, causing the truck to veer into the path of the oncoming pickup. Investigators determined that Chief Rummel died of smoke inhalation while unconscious. Matthew Boegli, Crystal Ross and their three young children died of blunt-force trauma on impact. The Chief was driving back to Three Forks at 55 mph while returning from Helena where the truck had been undergoing repairs to its water system.

Our sincere condolences go out to the families.


Firefighter dies while off duty in Oregon

Several media outlets are reporting that a wildland firefighter died while he was off duty at a fire camp. Matthew David Goodnature, 21, of Phoenix, Oregon was found by another firefighter Tuesday evening, July 29, near Four Mile Lake on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Oregon. Mr. Goodnature was assigned to the Launch Fire and apparently took a walk away from the camp where an accident occurred.

According to Newswatch 12:

Detective Nick Kennedy with the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case, and said he cannot draw any conclusions until his investigation is done. However, it appears that Goodnature tripped on a large rock and fell backwards. Scruff marks and other traces indicated Goodnature fell on a log that struck him on the small of his back. Detective Kennedy said it appears he died of a broken back.

Mr. Goodnature worked for Pacific Oasis Wildland Firefighting out of Ashland, Oregon.

We offer our sincere condolences to his family, friends,and co-workers.

Previously this year, there have been a total of six wildland firefighter fatalities: one aviation accident (plane crash) and five medical emergencies (heart attack). All six were either state or local jurisdiction employees.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Jeff.


Person killed escaping flames from Bully Fire

California’s Bully Fire has killed one person, who officials say was likely trying to flee the blaze, local media is reporting. 

The body was discovered inside the fire perimeter on Wednesday; on Thursday CAL FIRE officials confirmed that the person died while likely fleeing the fire when it started on July 11.

It has since burned 10,700 acres and is 47 percent contained, according to CAL FIRE’s general information site. The fire is burning 21 southwest of Redding.

Officials believe the fire was accidentally set when a man was driving his truck to an illegal marijuana in Shasta County. Freddie Alexander Smoke III was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of starting the fire.


Report released for 2013 smokejumper fatality

smokejumpers on the Hastings fire

File photo of smokejumpers on the Hastings Fire, northwest of Fairbanks, Alaska, May 31, 2011. Photo by Mike McMillan/Alaska Fire Service.

The Bureau of Land Management has released an Accident Investigation Factual Report on the fatality of the smokejumper in Idaho last year. On September 27, 2013 Mark Urban was killed on a parachute jump while conducting an equipment evaluation at a remote airstrip outside of Prairie, Idaho, approximately 50 miles east of Boise.

Mr. Urban and other smokejumpers were collecting data during jumps to validate the vertical speeds and the activation window under which an automatic activation device (AAD) would initiate the opening sequence of either a main or reserve canopy in smokejumper operations. The AAD was not intended to be engaged during the jump and was not thought to be a factor in the cause of the accident. The parachute was to be manually opened.

All of his previous 287 jumps had been from approximately 3,000 feet above ground level (AGL), but the test on September 27 was designed to begin from the 6,000-foot level. The plan was to wait until reaching 3,000 feet AGL to deploy the main parachute. Similar tests had been conducted years earlier and several jumpers successfully executed the procedure earlier that day.

Mr. Urban’s parachute did not deploy until he was 138 feet AGL, which did not result in any significant deceleration. He was killed upon impact with the ground.

After leaving the Twin Otter aircraft, Mr. Urban, as did other jumpers that day, experienced some spinning while descending from 6,000 to 3,000 feet. The jumpers had been briefed on procedures to correct the spin, but while the exact cause of the accident may never be known, at least one of the investigators concluded that it is possible Mr. Urban spun fast enough to create G-forces that caused him to lose consciousness.

Below is an excerpt from the report in the Human Factors section. It was written by Randy McCalip, a LtCol with the U.S. Air Force, trained as a human factors/aerospace physiology expert and military free fall jumpmaster with 16 years of jumping experience.

…I believe the [Mishap Smokejumper] MS experienced enough initial G-force to cause visual, cognitive, and/or physical degradation delaying early necessary action. The MS channelized on fulfilling the T&E jump profile requirements exposing him to longer and higher G-forces resulting in a G-LOC. The GLOC caused the MS to lose all motor function and go limp. This reversed the MS’s spin and eventually slowed the spin enough to return blood flow to the brain. The MS regained consciousness and initiated pull sequence at 138 ft AGL, well below safe deployment altitude.
Gravitational forces were CAUSAL in this mishap.

F. HF Summary
I thoroughly reviewed all factors that possibly caused and contributed to this mishap. Although the team had eye witness testimonies and two different video angles of the mishap, exactly why the MS didn’t pull at the instructed altitude will never be known with 100% certainty. The MS was highly regarded as an exceptional leader and experienced smokejumper that paid attention to details and standards. This HF analysis attempted to piece together the most logical reasons why the MS failed to deploy his main parachute.


Wyoming firefighter dies while taking Pack Test

(UPDATE: May 19, 2104)

Below is a news release issued today:


For Immediate Release

Wyoming State Forestry Division Employee Line of Duty Death

May 19, 2014

Contact: Bill Crapser, Wyoming State Forester 307-214-7843

(Newcastle, Wyo.) — The Wyoming State Forestry Division employee that died in the line of duty on May 17, 2014, in Newcastle, Wyoming has been identified as Honor Conservation Crew Supervisor Ted Drake.

Mr. Drake was participating with other employees in the annual firefighter work capacity test (pack test when he suffered a heart attack and attempts to revive him on scene were not successful.

Mr. Drake was 63 years old and had worked for the Wyoming State Forestry Division as a Crew Supervisor since June 2006.

“The Wyoming State Forestry Division is deeply saddened by this tragic event,” Bill Crapser, Wyoming State Forester said. “Our hearts go out to his family, friends and co-workers. The support from the fire service in Wyoming and the wildland fire service nationally is greatly appreciated.”

According to the Billings Gazette Mr. Crapser said Mr. Drake was the first worker to have died in service to the department since it came into existence in 1952.

A memorial service for Mr. Drake will be held Tuesday at Newcastle Assembly of God church.


(Originally published May 18, 2014)

The Billings Gazette is reporting that a firefighter with the Wyoming State Forestry Division died Saturday, May 17 while taking the Pack Test.

The man, whose name has not yet been released, suffered an apparent heart attack during the test, and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. The test requires that a person walk three miles in less than 45 minutes while carrying a 45-pound pack.

Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser said in a press release, “The Wyoming State Forestry Division is deeply saddened by this tragic event. Our hearts go out to his family, friends and co-workers.”

Our sincere condolences go out to the firefighter’s friends, family, and co-workers.



Thanks and a hat tip go out to Chris.


Deceased person found in Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad, California

Poinsettia Fire, screen grab from Fox TV at 120 pm PDT, May 14, 2014

Poinsettia Fire, screen grab from Fox TV at 1:20 p.m. PDT, May 14, 2014.

A deceased person has been found inside the perimeter of the Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad, California.

The City announced today that during mopup of the 400-acre blaze, firefighters were alerted to a transient encampment in the area of Ambrosia and Calliandra.  On checking the area, firefighters located a badly burned body. Further details about the deceased are unknown at this time and the investigation is ongoing. There have been no other reported injuries or fatalities.

Carlsbad is on the Pacific coast between Oceanside and San Diego. More information about the Poinsettia Fire which started May 14, 2014.