Firefighter killed at a wildfire in Oregon

Updated 9:12 a.m. PDT August 12, 2022

The 24-hour Preliminary Report was released today for the August 10 fatality on the Big Swamp Fire in Oregon.

Below is the narrative from the document:

Narrative: A crewmember from a Bureau of Land Management Interagency Hotshot Crew was killed as a result of critical injuries sustained during firefighting operations on the Big Swamp Fire. He was struck by a falling tree and transported via helicopter to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

Notifications to the family have been made and preliminary steps taken to convene an Interagency Serious Accident Review team ordered to facilitate organizational learning.

/s/ Duane Bishop – Acting Forest Supervisor, Willamette National Forest

Updated 12:23 p.m. PDT August 11, 2022

Firefighter Collin Hagan's body
REACH Air Medical helicopter arrives at the Roseburg Regional Airport with Firefighter Collin Hagan’s body. Douglas County Sheriff’s Office photo.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s office reported that the firefighter who was killed on the Big Swamp Fire in Southwest Oregon on August 10 was 27-year-old Collin Hagan of Toivola, Michigan.

Shortly after 12:30 p.m., 9-1-1 dispatchers received information that a wildland firefighter was critically injured after being struck by a tree. An ambulance and REACH Air Medical Services were dispatched to the scene. Despite lifesaving efforts by EMS personnel assigned to the fire, Mr. Hagan succumbed to his injuries.

Mr. Hagan’s body was flown from the Toketee Airstrip to the Roseburg Regional Airport by REACH Air Medical Services helicopter. Firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Roseburg Fire Department, and Douglas County Fire District #2 stood together to honor Mr. Hagan as his body arrived and was transferred to the care of a funeral service provider. The firefighters then provided an honor escort to the funeral home.

“We are devastated by the tragic loss of a cherished firefighter working on our forest to save our communities and beloved recreational areas,” said Duane Bishop, Acting Forest Supervisor on the Willamette National Forest. “Their family has been notified and we are working with our partners to ensure the crew is well taken care of. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and fellow crew members of this brave firefighter.”

Updated 8:43 a.m. PDT August 11, 2022

Map, location of Big Swamp Fire
Map, location of Big Swamp Fire, August 11, 2022.

The National Interagency Fire Center reported early Thursday morning that on August 10, a member of the Craig Interagency Hotshot Crew was fatally injured while assigned to the Big Swamp Fire on the Willamette National Forest in southwest Oregon.

A Serious Accident Investigation Team has been mobilized.  As of 8 a.m. Thursday morning the name of the deceased had not been released.

The Craig Interagency Hotshot Crew, founded by the Bureau of Land Management in 2001, is based in Craig, Colorado.

The Big Swamp Fire has burned 117 acres. It is 5 miles northwest of the 1,009-acre Windigo Fire and 62 miles southeast of Eugene. The August 10 update from the Incident Management Team said crews were securing line, mopping up, and looking for opportunities to put in direct fire line. It is one of four blazes being managed by Northwest Incident Management Team 6. The others are Windigo, Potter, and Shelter Fires.

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

Big Swamp Fire 9:29 p.m. August 10, 2022
The red shaded area represents the Big Swamp Fire in southwest Oregon, mapped at 9:29 p.m. PDT August 10, 2022. Looking northwest.

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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.

20 thoughts on “Firefighter killed at a wildfire in Oregon”

  1. Every time I read about a Wildland Firefighter fatality I am brought to tears in anguish for losing yet another young person to this business. I grieve for their family and for the coworkers who try in vain to save the life of their colleague. And I am angered by lack of political and agency officials to demand comprehensive reforms for Wildland Firefighter compensation and benefits. Office of Personnel Management, Office of Workmans Competition Program Managers and Position Classifiers need to be a part of Critical Incident Response Teams, Accident Investigation Teams and Memorials to get a true feeling of the absolute gut wrenching grief that comes with this job.

  2. No one has said that fighting wildfires is not a dangerous profession. We can by observing guidelines of the process make it safer but that in itself will not make it hazard free!

    1. Have some respect. He fought woodland forest fires for years and died in the of duty. Who cares what he went to college for, he had all the proper training and certification

    2. Brian, his job title is irrelevant. He was young and spent many years of his life fighting forest fires. The manner in which he passed was tragic and unexpected. He was also my cousin, and our family is mourning. He died in the line of duty while working to protect and preserve our lands for others.

      1. Sorry you had to read that, Adam. Wrong place, wrong time, lack of situational awareness.

        Please let your family members know that wildland firefighters (and former firefighters) across the West are saddened at his loss. Lotta virtual and in-person hugs today in Collin’s name. The Foundation people will be in touch if they’re not already, and don’t hesitate to come back here and ask for help if you need some.

    3. Brian is expressing our frustration and distress with the system that only treats wildland firefighter as a firefighter when they die in the line of duty.

      So many other aspects they are treated and recognized as unskilled labor and agencies don’t take care of them with pay, housing, training, equipment, and support.

      I doubt any disrespect was intended.

      I sat on hillside with a Craig Hotshot as a lookout back on a fire in Wyoming. Good crew, good people, prayers and thoughts to all. There are days that just suck.

      1. Thank you for your explanation and kind words. Unfortunately, it was not taken that way. Collin was so much more than just a firefighter indeed. He shared similar experiences as you stated.
        He absolutely loved being a firefighter and was proud of it. He will be missed by so many.

    4. No, you are wrong. He was a firefighter. I am a retired BLM Forester and Outdoor Recreation Planner (35 years).
      Firefighting was not my primary job with BLM until called upon. I worked on numerous prescribed and wildland fires. Firefighting is a dangerous and difficult job and often not appreciated by those with limited understanding of the job. God bless his soul and his family and friends. His death is a great loss to the firefighting community and to his BLM family.

  3. We live in the woods and many of our younger friends work “fire,” as they like to say. Every time they go off to a fire we ask them to be smart and stay safe. Firefighting is often a grind but always unpredictable and dangerous. It is in the nature of fire to be so. The courage of the many friends we have is without question. They have our undying respect and admiration. There is great sadness at the loss of this young man and we owe him a debt of gratitude that can never repay what he gave to all of us. God be with him and his family, and to all of his fellow firefighters on the frontlines.

  4. There are no acceptable casualties, but there are acceptable risks. Just because you don’t accept casualties doesn’t mean they won’t happen, hence you need to prepare to accept the unacceptable.
    LtCol Eric Carlson (USMC) retired

    My intent is not to be disrespectal with this tragic loss. My intent is honorable with the key point of rationalizing the the high risk environment wildland firefighters operate within and potential tragic outcomes such as this.
    My thoughts go out to the family and friends.

  5. I want to say something to lessen the pain I feel over your death, but unable to find the words, I share from The View From Here. “I am rather familiar with the fireline. When I’m there I know what the desired outcome is. If I come upon a stretch of line dotted with sketchy leaner snags I tell myself to be “super heads-up” when I walk through. If I scramble down that piece of dirt and don’t get smashed—especially if a snag creaks and wobbles and I pickup the pace—when I’m back at the truck I can give myself credit for surviving (overestimating the extent of my control). But let’s face it, I was just rolling the dice. And I got lucky.” RIP, brother.

  6. My heart hurts for Collin’s family and crewmates, and any person who may have had the pleasure to meet him on a fire assignment or elsewhere. We lost a brother. My condolences to all affected by his loss.

What do you think?