Kentucky firefighter dies from injuries sustained in September

We are sad to report that Donald S. Lam of the Kentucky Division of Forestry, died today, February 17, of injuries he sustained while fighting a fire in western Kentucky on September 7, 2010.

We reported on September 8:

Initial investigations report that Ranger Lam was struck by a rolling log, a burning snag approximately 10 ft in length that broke loose and rolled off a bluff. The impact has left Ranger Lam unconscious and with serious injuries including second degree burns.

Here is more information reported today by

Lam, 58, was a dedicated forest ranger technician and experienced wildland firefighter who had assisted with fire suppression efforts on the local, state and national level for nearly 12 years.

“This tragedy is a tremendous loss to our organization,” said Leah MacSwords, director of the Kentucky Division of Forestry. “When you think about what forest wardens do every day and the frequency in which they put themselves in harm’s way for the protection of citizens and forest resources, it makes you realize the commitment and loyalty that make up their character.”

Lam, who had been in critical condition since the accident occurred on September 7, received injuries while working the Scotts Chapel Road Fire-a 12-acre wildfire in Livingston County. Lam was clearing a fire break for containment at the base of a bluff when a burning snag broke loose on top and rolled off striking him from behind. The impact left him unconscious and with serious injuries including second degree burns.

The Scotts Chapel Road fire initially spread from a burning brush pile during a county-wide burn ban. The brush pile was set fire by FCE Construction and Excavation while clearing a construction site owned by River Oaks Timberland Management. Currently, charges are pending for the person responsible for starting the fire.

Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Lam’s family and co-workers.

Thanks for the information Tyson, and we are sorry for your loss.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “Kentucky firefighter dies from injuries sustained in September”

  1. I was involved in a fatality investigation when 2 Kentucky firefighters were killed in a burnover on a wildfire in 2000, and know that the Kentucky Forestry folks were committed to do all in their powers to see that it never happened again. This just re-emphasizes the dangers of fighting wildland fires, and the often unseen and unexpected risks we face on the fireground. Best wishes and deepest sympathies to the family of Donald Lam.


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