Preliminary information about the fallen LACFD firefighters

At a press conference today Mike Bryant, Deputy Fire Chief the Los Angeles County Fire Department, provided some preliminary information about the deaths of the two firefighters we reported on August 30.

Captain Tedmund D. Hall, 47, and Firefighter Specialist Arnaldo Quinones, 35, (left to right above) were working with 65 other firefighters attempting to protect Camp 16 from the Station fire. As the fire got near the camp, Quinones and Hall got into a pickup truck in order to reposition it. Somehow during that repositioning the truck left the road and tumbled down the slope, ending up 800 feet below the road.

Photo: Jason Redmond

The fire overran Camp 16 (above) totally destroying the facilities, according to the Chief Bryant. “Many” firefighters suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation, but all were treated and released.

There will be a formal inquiry, including a serious accident review.

Services are being planned for Quinones and Hall, but have not yet been finalized.

Again, our condolences go out to the families and co-workers.

Two LA County firefighters killed in vehicle accident on Station fire

In a news conference late today officials announced that two firefighters with the Los Angeles County Fire Department(LACFD) died today in a vehicle accident while working on the Station fire near Mt. Gleason in southern California. The accident happened earlier this afternoon, and the families of the fallen firefighters have been notified, they said at the news conference.

Details about the accident were not provided, but television footage showed a truck that had rolled over.

At 6:52 p.m. PT the LACFD Tweeted:

lacfd *Station IC* Report of fire department vehicle over the side 400+ feet with unknown outcome. Copters unable to get in to search. Keep them in our prayers.

Our sincere condolences to the families and co-workers of the firefighters.

We will update this as more information becomes available.

Memorial for Robert Woodhead, helicopter pilot

Robert Woodhead, the pilot who died on Friday, August 14 when his helicopter crashed as he was dipping water out of the Fraser River near Lytton, B.C., was remembered during a memorial service on Sunday.

Fire hoses spray two streams of water before helicopters fly over. Photo: Eunice Stotesbury

Fire hoses spray two streams of water before helicopters fly over. Photo: Eunice StotesburyFrom the Lillooet News:

Lillooet – Hundreds paid their respects Sunday at the 23 Camels Bridge to Robert Woodhead, the helicopter pilot who lost his life fighting the Intlpam wildfire.

Residents and emergency personnel joined Woodhead’s brother and four children at the afternoon tribute, which brought traffic to a standstill. Local firefighter Alain Auger and Eunice Stotesbury organized the event.

Woodhead was filling his helicopter’s water bucket from the Fraser River on Aug. 14 at about 4:20 p.m. when the craft crashed into the river. His helicopter, a Bell 212, crashed 28 kilometres north of Lytton and was headed to the Intlpam wildfire nearby.

Another helicopter in the area tried to rescue him after the pilot saw Woodhead surface from the wreck. The other pilot lowered his bucket so Woodhead could grab hold. He could not.

His body was found in the river on Aug. 19, a kilometre south of Yale.

Though the large crowd was nearly silent and the mood was sombre, many cheered in a spectacular moment of the tribute.

Two fire hoses launched streams of water into the Fraser River from the bridge. As the hoses sprayed, three helicopters flew in a row above the river, south towards the 23 Camels. The middle helicopter carried a water bucket.

The middle helicopter released the water before reaching the bridge, prompting a shout of approval from the crowd.

The helicopters then flew over the bridge before breaking formation and turning around.

Bruce Rushton, the chaplain for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation, then played the last post and “Amazing Grace” on a trumpet.

Woodhead’s brother and children tossed flowers off the bridge into the river after Rushton played. They were followed by Lillooet Fire Department Deputy Chief David Harder, who invited the audience to release flowers and other mementoes such as poems, into the river.

Air tanker crash in Nevada kills pilot

An air tanker crashed while working on the Hoyt fire in Nevada on Thursday, killing the pilot. Our sincere condolences to the family and co-workers.

From the Missoulian:

A Missoula-area pilot died Thursday when his single-engine air tanker plane crashed while dropping retardant on a forest fire 125 miles northeast of Reno, Nev.

The pilot’s name was Dave Jamsa, and he’d worked at Minuteman Aerial Applications Inc. for four years. The company is a sister corporation of Minuteman Aviation Inc., based at Missoula International Airport. Jamsa had a wife and four children in Missoula.

“He was trying to make his drop when he crashed,” Minuteman director of operations Forrest Gue said Friday morning. “We’re doing everything we can to find out why it happened.”

Jamsa’s plane was one of six SEAT planes working on the Hoyt Fire on Thursday, according to Bureau of Land Management spokesman Mark Struble. The 2,000-acre fire is burning in pinon-juniper trees, sagebrush and grass, and is about 5 percent contained.

The aircraft that crashed was similar to this one. Photo: Minuteman Aerial Application

“SEATs are used quite a bit by BLM in this country,” Struble said on Friday. “They carry a load that seems to work really well with our kind of fires. They can get into much tighter country, and lower, than the multi-engine bombers.”

The crash happened about 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Jamsa was airlifted from the crash site to medical facilities in Locklock, Nev., where he was pronounced dead. No one else was injured in the crash. The aircraft that crashed was similar to this one. Photo: Minuteman Aerial Application

The plane was an Air Tractor AT-802A, one of four Minuteman Aerial Applications operates out of Missoula. It is a modified crop-duster carrying 800 gallons of retardant and a single pilot. Minuteman has used the planes for firefighting since 1999.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to study the crash. No other Minuteman or affiliated aircraft are affected by the review, according to Minuteman Aerial Applications president Mark Mamuzich.

“We’re mostly initial attack,” Mamuzich said on Friday. “We get out there and try to knock things down before they get too big. They’re a very effective tool. The SEATs have really proved themselves over the years. Unfortunately we had this mishap.”

Plans for a memorial service for Jamsa had not been finalized Friday.

Body of helicopter pilot found

The body of Robert Christopher Woodhead, the 53-year old helicopter pilot who had been missing after his firefighting helicopter crashed into the Fraser River in British Columbia on Friday, has been found. It was located just south of Saddle Rock, near Spuzzum. 

Mr. Woodhead was piloting a Bell 212 and attempting to fill his water bucket when the ship crashed into the river. 

The helicopter company he worked for is planning a tribute on Sunday in Lillooet on the bridge over the Fraser River.

Helicopter pilot believed dead after crash in B.C.

Authorities now believe that the pilot who was flying the helicopter that crashed into the Fraser River in British Columbia on Friday is dead. Our sincere condolences to the family and co-workers.


Robert Christopher Woodhead, 53, of Stoney Creek, Ont., was operating a Bell 212 helicopter with a line and water bucket Friday afternoon when the aircraft went down in the Fraser River, near Lytton, B.C.

RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said Mounties believe Woodhead died soon after the chopper crashed in water 15 metres deep and with a swift current.

“We have met and spoken to the family,” Moskaluk said.

“It is believed that Mr. Woodhead perished in the river.”

Woodhead, who was based in B.C., was last seen in the water just after the crash by another pilot who was flying overhead.

That pilot tried to save Woodhead by lowering his own line and bucket into the water but the rescue attempt proved unsuccessful.

Moskaluk said search crews have recovered Woodhead’s flight helmet, as well as pieces of debris from his helicopter, but they have yet to find the man’s body in the water.

“In incidents of this nature, with the incertitude of the person’s fate, it leaves all in a suspended state of deep grief,” he said.

“Our thoughts, along with those of all British Columbians, whose lives and homes were protected in this and in past fire seasons by the courageous efforts of ground firefighters and the pilots assigned to battling these blazes, are with the Woodhead family at this time.”