The Backbone fire on the Klamath National Forest in northern California issued this news release about 45 minutes ago:
Fatal Accident During Routine Training At the Backbone Helibase
WILLOW CREEK, Calif.– During a routine training exercise an individual was involved in an accident Tuesday morning. A Helicopter and its crew, who are assigned to the Backbone Fire, was conducting weekly skill proficiency acceptance training and was involved in an accident that took an individuals life.
At 10:10 this morning while performing a proficiency skill acceptance training, at the Backbone Helibase in Willow Creek, an individual fell and incurred fatal injuries. The training is required to be conducted weekly to insure the crew’s safety and proficiency.
Information is limited at this time and all names of individuals involved are being with held until notifications to families have been made. We will be happy to provide information as soon as it is available.
The individual was provided medical attention immediately at the scene. The Base medical staff, the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office, and the Humboldt County Sherriff’s Office were dispatched and involved in the initial response.
Our sincere condolences to the family and co-workers.
More information about the Backbone fire, which is being managed by a National Incident Management Team (NIMO), can be found at Inciweb.
UPDATE @ 6:43 p.m. PT, July 21
The Backbone fire issued a second news release at about 5:45 p.m. PT today:
WILLOW CREEK, Calif.– Thomas Marovich, 20, of Hayward California incurred fatal injuries when falling while performing routine rappel proficiency skill training, at the Backbone Helibase in Willow Creek.
Marovich was a second year apprentice with the Forest Service at the Modoc National Forest, and was working with the Chester Helitack Crew from the Lassen National Forest which was assigned to the Backbone Fire at the time of the accident.
At 10:10 this morning Marovich fell and incurred fatal injuries while performing the required training which is conducted at a minimum every 14 days to insure the crew’s safety and skill proficiency.
The individual was provided advance life support treatment immediately at the scene. The Base medical staff, the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office, and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office were involved in the response.
The Forest Service has mobilized an accident investigation team and is working with the National Transportation Safety Board.