The Associated Press is reporting that a wildland firefighter died Wednesday night in Mississippi.
Evan Batson, 34, worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado on the San Juan National Forest’s Columbine Wildland Fire Module. The crew was on an assignment in Mississippi assisting with prescribed fires.
Mr. Batson and his co-workers had gone to dinner in Natchez. They were walking to a casino when he jumped a fence to take a shortcut from the top of a bluff to a grassy area, but he jumped too far. Natchez Police Department Cmdr. Scott Frye said the drop was about 100 feet down.
His co-workers, some of whom are EMTs, administered first aid along with the Natchez Fire Department.
“There was no motor vehicle access where he was,” Police Chief Joseph Daughtry said.
Later Mr. Batson was pronounced dead.
“His death occurred outside of work hours and is still under investigation,” said Lawrence Lujan, a spokesman for the US Forest Service. “Evan worked on the Payette, Medicine Bow-Routt, Manti La Sal, and San Juan National Forests as a career wildland firefighter during his tenure. We share this profound loss with Evan’s family, friends, and crew members and hold them in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
From the USFS website:
“The Columbine Wildland Fire Module (WFM) is a ten-person crew based out of the Columbine Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest. Columbine WFM is a resource that responds to fires locally, regionally, and nationally, and provides self-sufficient, highly skilled fire professionals to assist with wildland and prescribed fire operations, fire behavior and fire effects monitoring, hazard fuels reduction, and a range of other fire and resource related missions. Columbine has existed as an “initial attack” module since the early 2000s. With support from Forest Leadership working to expand the San Juan National Forest’s managed and prescribed fire programs, Columbine was reborn as a Wildland Fire Module in 2013.”
Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Batson’s family, friends, and co-workers.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Mike and Scott.