Oregon firefighter killed Friday

A 21-year-old federal firefighter was killed in an on-duty vehicle accident on Friday, August 4, near Powers, Oregon. Benjamin Sapper from Boulder, Colorado was a handcrew member on the Gold Beach Ranger District of the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest in southwest Oregon.

“This is a devastating loss of one of our own Gold Beach firefighters,” District Ranger Kailey Guerrant told KATU-TV. “We have a tight-knit community on the Gold Beach and Powers Ranger Districts, and we stand together in grief and support for his family, friends, and fellow firefighters during this heartbreaking time.”

Benjamin Sapper
Benjamin Sapper photo courtesy USFS

Benjamin graduated from Boulder High School and the University of Colorado with a degree in Applied Mathematics.

KDRV-TV reported that Sapper was on duty and traveling with his crew when their rig was involved in a vehicle crash. Coquille Fire & Rescue said the vehicle left the roadway above the community of Powers.

Sapper was an avid baseball player, chess player, and skier who planned to attend grad school in earth sciences this fall at the University of British Columbia.

Our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to his co-workers on the Gold Beach crew.

Firefighter from Prescott runs for the Foundation

The Cocodona Trail is a curated route linking historic towns and paths through central Arizona. The rich history of the towns linked up through little-traveled ranges makes this a one-of-a-kind tour of the Grand Canyon State, and the Cocodona 250 race is set for May 6–11, 2024. Runners travel from Black Canyon City to Flagstaff; it’s the ultimate run across the ultimate places of northern Arizona!

northern Arizona's best
Some of northern Arizona’s best views will be highlighted during this race!
Still shot from Anthony Leach’s video.

The Cocodona 250 will take runners from Black Canyon City up into the Bradshaw Mountains to the historic little town of Crown King. The course then traverses more of the Bradshaws, up and over Mount Union, and snakes down into Prescott, where it cuts straight through town on Whiskey Row and out into the iconic Granite Dells. From Prescott the course heads up and over Mingus Mountain — on one of the world’s best motorcycle roads — into the billion-dollar copper camp known as Jerome, and then down and onward through Sedona, with its stunning red rock formations and high desert vistas. As runners leave Sedona, the course breaks into the pines of Flagstaff, finishing up and over Mt. Elden and into downtown Flagstaff. It is an extraordinary undertaking and treats runners to some of the best landscapes Arizona has to offer.

Jerome, perched on a hillside above Cottonwood.
Jerome, perched on a hillside above Cottonwood.
Photo by Cocodona 250.

Harley Guy will be running the Cocodona 250 again to raise money for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Harley’s worked on a BLM engine and with Prescott Helitack and in other wildland fire roles; his past struggles with addiction led him to discover running and wildland fire. Help him raise awareness about the mental health issues that firefighters often struggle with — he will donate all his proceeds to the Foundation to help firefighters and their families during hard times.

“I was a wildland firefighter for two seasons,” explains Harley, “and I have seen firsthand what can happen when firefighters get injured, or worse. Firefighting is a hard job and doesn’t pay well. These men and women put their lives on the line to protect our public lands and can be away from loved ones for months at a time. An injury can mean a lack of finances causing hardship for firefighters and their families, which can be devastating.”

Harley Guy
Harley Guy explains why he’s running and what the Foundation does.

“When a firefighter passes away, this hardship can mean an even heavier burden to bear for the families,” adds Harley. “The Wildland Firefighter Foundation helps cover these expenses, helping both financially and with mental health care. Mental health is a big issue in the wildland community and unfortunately, there are many suicides and suicide attempts. The Foundation helps improve mental health for both firefighters and their families.”

Burk Minor
Burk Minor with the Foundation explains what they do, who they help, and what they do behind the scenes.

Anthony Leach and Northern Arizona Productions posted a 5-minute video called Harley Runs to youtube, highlighting Harley Guy’s story. It’s a great little feature including Burk Minor’s explanation of what the Foundation does behind the scenes — and why.

Because he’s from Prescott, Harley says he’s felt the loss of loved ones in the community firsthand; he knew many of the Granite Mountain 19 who lost their lives on June 30, 2013 on the Yarnell Hill Fire. “This year is the tenth anniversary of that tragic event, and I want to raise money by running 250 miles during the Cocodona 250, as well as honoring and remembering the Granite Mountain Hotshots.”

Learn more about the Wildland Firefighter Foundation at wffoundation.org

You can learn more about Harley Guy’s effort at his Donation Page.
Cocodona 250 Charity Bib (Arizona) — $1875 raised of $5000 on July 24.

B.C. wildland firefighter killed after she was hit by falling tree on a fire

A young firefighter who was killed by a falling tree in British Columbia’s southern Interior on Thursday is being remembered by friends, family, and community leaders as a kind and selfless woman committed to protecting the province and those who call it home. The CBC News reported that Devyn Gale, 19, died after being trapped beneath a tree that hit her while she was clearing brush near a fire in a remote area outside Revelstoke, B.C.

The Guardian reported that Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has paid tribute to Ms. Gale, and the western province requested an extra 1,000 international firefighters. In a post on Friday Trudeau wrote, “The news from British Columbia – that one of the firefighters bravely battling wildfires has lost her life – is heartbreaking. At this incredibly difficult time, I’m sending my deepest condolences to her family, her friends, and her fellow firefighters.”

Gale’s crew was working on a fire outside the town of Revelstoke, about 310 miles (500km) northeast of Vancouver. Revelstoke Royal Canadian Mounted Police said she was clearing brush in a remote area when she lost contact with her team and was discovered caught under a fallen tree.

Revelstoke B.C. map
Revelstoke, British Columbia

Fatalities are relatively rare among Canadian firefighters, and some say it’s in part because Canada’s firefighters do not carry fire shelters as is required in the U.S.

The last such death in British Columbia was in 2015, when firefighter John Phare was killed after he was struck by a falling tree during a fire on the province’s Sunshine Coast. Five years earlier, Tim Whiting and Brian Tilley, two airtanker pilots, died in a plane crash near the town of Lytton.

Davyn Gale’s brother Nolan posted a tribute online early Friday. “Yesterday, while working a fire, my sister Devyn was struck by a tree and killed,” he wrote.

Devyn Gale photo, courtesy of her brother Nolan

“I’m grateful for everything she’s done for me and others, completely out of kindness with no expectation for reciprocation. She truly didn’t deserve this. Devyn was an amazing sister. She was so kind and thoughtful. She was careful, considerate, hardworking. She was smarter and better at what she did than she gave herself credit for.”

The firefighter was airlifted to a hospital but succumbed to her injuries, a police statement said.

Canada is on track for its worst-ever wildfire season, with record fires also burning in large swaths of eastern Canada, and wildfire emissions have hit record highs.

In Quebec, the Canadian military is being deployed to help with emergency evacuations in the north of the province, the federal emergency preparedness minister said on Friday. In British Columbia, some 2,000 firefighters are battling more than 350 fires, and authorities have requested an extra 1,000 international firefighters to help tackle blazes that have burned 1.2m hectares of forest in the province so far this year, far above the 10-year average of 76,000 hectares.

Gale is the first wildland firefighter to die in B.C. in almost a decade. Fellow firefighters, community leaders and government officials offered condolences from across the country after her passing. “When we think about public service in our province, when we think about commitment to the people of British Columbia, it’s hard to think of a more dramatic example of sacrifice … than putting your life on the line,” B.C. Premier David Eby said, speaking from Vancouver on Friday. “This is a young woman who had her whole life ahead of her. She obviously loved the outdoors and had a strong calling to public service, to stepping up for her friends and neighbors. The whole community is reeling. The province is in mourning for her death — that someone so selfless could die during this kind of work. On behalf of all British Columbians, I want to say thank you to her.”

The Gale family has said that donations in the name of Devyn Gale can be made to the Revelstoke Community Foundation — more info’s available from in**@re***************************.com

THANKS and a tip of the hardhat to P. and Matthew.

Annual Poll: Preparedness Level 5 this year?

I don’t know which year Bill Gabbert started this PL5 poll but I always enjoyed it and I’m reviving it.
When do YOU think we will move to PL5 this year? And, will there be a “Moses Letter” this year?

Preparedness Level

PL2In 2018 on this date, Bill wrote that the National MAC Group had just moved the national fire level up to PL4 “due to increased significant wildland fire activity from central TX to WA state, the commitment of IMTs, and the potential for new wildland fires across multiple GACCs.”

The highest level is 5. Today on July 2 at the NICC in Boise, we’re at PL2.

NIFC has more information about Preparedness Levels, but here are the criteria for PL5:

This is the highest level of wildland fire activity. Several geographic areas are experiencing large, complex, wildland fire incidents, which have the potential to exhaust national wildland resources. At least 80 percent of the country’s IMTs and wildland firefighting personnel are committed to wildland incidents. At this level, all fire-qualified federal employees become available for wildfire response.

Please tell us what you think in our poll. Last day to vote is August 19.

When will the 2023 national preparedness level go to PL5? The week of ...

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Sometimes when we’re in PL4 or 5 the honchos in Washington will distribute what’s called a “Moses Letter,” telling regional and local units to Let My People Go so they can go fight fire and save lives.

Exodus 8:1 — Then the Lord said to Moses, Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me.'”

Of course they don’t officially actually call it a Moses Letter and probably won’t quote the Bible if they do send one, but you never know — this country’s in a new norm now, for many reasons. For bonus points, let us know in the comments if you think the folks in the head shed will send a Moses Letter this year.



Data breach hits state and federal agencies

The FederalNewsNetwork is reporting that several federal agencies have been hit with cyber intrusions by a zero-day vulnerability in a popular file transfer service, and Department of Energy organizations are among the victims.

UPDATE 06/16: The global data breach exposed the personal information of millions of Oregonians who have a DMV-issued identification card. Airlines, banks, universities, foreign governments, and other state-level agencies were also compromised by the attack. Those compromises include a government-managed radioactive waste storage site, and the victim count outside of government agencies was about 50 as of late yesterday. KPTV News reported that the Oregon DMV was made aware of the breach on June 1. The Oregon DOT announced yesterday that personal information of about 3.5 million residents may have been compromised; ODOT was alerted by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that a popular file transfer tool called MOVEit could allow unauthorized access to its user systems. Around a dozen other U.S. agencies have active MOVEit contracts, according to the Federal Data Procurement System. TechCrunch reported that this includes the Department of the Army, the Department of the Air Force, and the Food and Drug Administration.

Multiple sources confirmed that Oak Ridge Associated Universities and Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico experienced data breaches caused by the MOVEit vulnerability. It was unknown whether the incident affected any internal Energy Department-run systems, but it had impacted agency data at those locations.

MOVEit logoMultiple U.S. agencies have been compromised by attackers who had exploited flaws in popular software tool MOVEit and had collected information from a range of victims. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, confirmed Thursday that several federal agencies were affected but which agencies was not yet clear. CLoP‘s Russian-speaking hackers have managed recent attacks exploiting MOVEit.

The breach compromised the personally identifiable information of potentially tens of thousands of individuals, including DOE employees and contractors, and DOE officials took immediate steps to prevent further exposure. Other agencies will also likely be affected by the breach because MOVEit is a popular transfer software.

“This software is embedded in a lot of systems, and there could be a long tail on this one,” one source said. “There’s probably stuff out there you just don’t know about yet.” The government of Nova Scotia and the University of Rochester were the first victims to be identified in North America while organizations such as Britain’s communications regulator Ofcom, the BBC, British Airways, and Irish carrier Aer Lingus have disclosed data theft.

Minnesota’s Department of Education announced a wide-ranging breach involving the data of hundreds of thousands of students.

TheRecord reported that security company Censys said they examined organizations exposed to the internet who use MOVEit Transfer and found that 31 percent of the hosts running MOVEit are in the financial services industry, 16 percent in healthcare, 9 percent in information technology, and 8 percent in government and military.

Missouri’s Office of Administration, Information Services and Technology Division (OA-ITSD) said on Tuesday it is investigating what was taken by hackers during a cyberattack on the MOVEit system they use to transfer files and information between agencies. State agencies in Illinois also said they are investigating.