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Thread: Five Members of Oregon Wildfire Crew Killed in Colo. Van Crash

  1. #1
    Moderator patries's Avatar
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    Five Members of Oregon Wildfire Crew Killed in Colo. Van Crash

    PARACHUTE, Colo. (AP) -- A van ferrying firefighters from Oregon to Colorado's worst wildfire in history swerved off a highway and spun out of control, killing four and injuring seven others.

    The passenger van was carrying 11 members of a crew from Grayback Forestry to the 137,000-acre fire southwest of Denver on Friday when it drifted toward the median near Parachute, 170 miles west of Denver.

    The Colorado State Patrol said the driver apparently overcorrected, swerved off the highway, and the van rolled four times and landed in a ditch.

    The deaths were the first of the firefighting season in Colorado, a season that already has seen about 250 homes consumed by raging flames and more than 220,000 acres scorched by major fires still out of control.

    Colorado State Patrol spokesman Don Moseman said the van was part of an eight-vehicle convoy heading to Colorado from La Grande, Ore., in the northeastern part of the state. Most of the people in the van were from Oregon and Idaho.

    Moseman said other firefighters and support personnel in the convoy remained in the area, while others continued on to the fire. He wasn't sure how many people stayed behind.

    ``We had a lot of distraught people out there,'' Moseman said. ``The vehicle was very heavily damaged. Of course in a convoy, some of their group saw it happen. It was very rough for them.''

    Retha Shirley, 19, from Baker City, Ore., was killed in the accident, authorities said. The names of the three other victims were not immediate released.

    Moseman said reckless driving charges were possible against the driver, Megan Helm, 21, of La Grande, who had moderate injuries. There was no indication that alcohol or drugs were involved

    Two passengers were listed in critical condition and another was in serious condition at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction. Four others were being treated at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.

    Oregon crews were on duty in 1994 when a tame 50-acre fire on Storm King Mountain outside Glenwood Springs in western Colorado blew up after a weather front moved through. Fourteen firefighters, including nine from the Prineville, Ore., Hot Shots, were killed as flames overwhelmed them.

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    Moderator patries's Avatar
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    Young Victims Were Ejected as Van Rolled

    On June 21,2002 at 5:15 p.m. a 15 passenger van carrying a fire crew from LaGrande, Oregon to the Hayman Fire in Colorado was involved in a one vehicle accident 3 miles east of Parachute, Colorado on I-70. The group was from Grayback Forestry Inc. from LaGrande, Oregon.

    The van was one vehicle in a convoy of 8 traveling to the fire lines near Denver. The van was carrying 11 firefighters. They had been on the road for an extended period of time, but had just stopped in Parachute prior to the accident.

    The van was eastbound on I-70 when the driver lost control and went off the left side of the road momentarily into the median. The van then came back across the two eastbound lanes and rolled 3 times on the roadway and one time off the right side of the road. 4 of the occupants were ejected. We have four confirmed fatalities at this time.

    The other 7 were taken to local hospitals in Rifle, Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction, CO. Three are in critical condition. Charges are pending against the driver. There are no indications at this time that alcohol or drugs of any kind were a factor in this accident.

    One of the fatalities is Retha Shirley, 19, of Baker, Ore. The three other fatalities will be released pending notification of next of kin.

    Injury list:

    Megan Helm, 21 from LeGrande, Oregon. driver, moderate injuries
    Patrick Shore, 25, La Grande, critical
    Anthony Kyle, age unknown, LaGrande, minor injuries
    Robert S. Heins, 20, Burley, Idaho, minor injuries
    Brandon Fiala, 20, no condition, no hometown
    Bartholomew Bailey, 20, Corvallis, Ore., critical
    Jason Staten, 20, Baker City, Ore., minor injuries

  3. #3
    Moderator patries's Avatar
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    Four Oregon firefighters die in crash

    firefighters die in crash

    By Nancy Mitchell and Michael BeDan, News Staff Writer
    June 22, 2002

    Four Oregon firefighters en route to help fight the Hayman Fire died Friday in a rollover accident on Interstate 70 just west of Rifle, and three others were critically injured.

    Details of the 5:15 p.m. accident were still sketchy late Friday, but the Colorado State Patrol said four others -- all believed to be firefighters -- also were being treated for serious to minor injuries at hospitals in Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction and Rifle.

    The firefighters were traveling east in a 15-passenger van and were part of a convoy of eight vehicles that left La Grande, Ore., to lend aid to the firefighting efforts in Colorado.

    "This is like a freakout night," said Jenny O'Bryan of La Grande, whose husband, Joseph Woods, is the crew chief for the firefighters in the crash.

    "Somebody dies on a fire. They are used to that. But not on the road in Colorado," she said.

    Trooper Dan Moseman said the van's driver, Megan Helm, 21, of La Grande, became distracted by something inside the van and briefly lost control, veering off the left side of the interstate into the median. Fatigue was also being investigated as a possible factor, authorities said.

    Helm then tried to correct the vehicle and swerved across two eastbound lanes of the interstate, rolling the van three times on the pavement and once more into the grass on the right side of the road.

    Four occupants of the van were ejected, and the cleanup closed I-70 for three hours.

    "It was pretty chaotic," said Colorado State Patrol Cpl. Ron Madsen.

    Madsen said charges were pending against Helm, who suffered moderate injuries.

    "The van had been on the road for an extended period of time, but had just stopped in Parachute," Madsen said.

    The firefighters were employees of a private contractor known as Grayback Forestry, among the largest -- and considered the most elite -- of private firefighting agencies.

    Authorities confirmed that one of the fatalities is Retha Shirley, 19, of Baker, Ore. The names of other three were being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

    They also provided an injury list: Patrick Shore, 25, La Grande, critical; Anthony Kyle, age unknown, LaG rande, minor injuries; Robert S. Heins, 20, Burley, Idaho, minor injuries; Brandon Fiala, 20, no condition, no hometown; Bartholomew Bailey, 20, Corvallis, Ore., critical; and Jason Staten, 20, Baker City, Ore., minor injuries.

    Grayback Forestry provides contract emergency services, fuels management, wildfire suppression and training, helicopter charters and other miscellaneous forestry services. Grayback Forestry has been operating since 1979.

    The firm has offices in La Grande, Grants Pass and John Day, Ore.

    Kurt Wiedenmann, district ranger for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, said contract firefighters such as Grayman Forestry consist of about 20 men and women who have some type of firefighting experience. They often travel in caravans to battle blazes in the northwestern United States.

    It now has become common for the U.S. Forest Service to contract firefighting crews such as Grayman Forestry to help bolster Forest Service crews, Hot Shots and firefighters who are on the front lines.

    "We use them for indirect line building and mopups, and a lot of cleanup stuff," Wiedenmann said. "It's pretty common to see, you know, a third or half of the crews at camps being contract firefighters."

  4. #4
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Zigich, Zachary

    Age: 18
    Rank: Firefighter
    Status: Career
    Incident Date: 06/21/2002
    Incident Time: 17:15
    Death Date: 06/21/2002

    Cause of Death: Struck By/Contact with Object
    Nature of Death: Internal Trauma
    Emergency Duty: Yes
    Duty Type: Responding/Returning from Alarm
    Activity Type: Riding Vehicle/Apparatus
    Fixed Prop. Use: Street/Road

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Grayback Forestry Inc.
    P.O. Box 838
    Merlin, Oregon 97532
    Chief: Mike Wheelock

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter Zigich was one of five contract wildland firefighters killed and six injured when one of the vans carrying employees of Grayback Forestry Inc. left the roadway and rolled over several times while on Interstate 70 in western Colorado. The crew was in transit on what was to be a 30-hour nonstop drive from Oregon to Colorado to join in the fight of the Hayman fire, the largest in Colorado state history.


    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/application....cfm?p_id=1296

  5. #5
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Shirley, Retha

    Age: 19
    Rank: Firefighter
    Status: Career
    Incident Date: 06/21/2002
    Incident Time: 17:15
    Death Date: 06/21/2002

    Cause of Death: Struck By/Contact with Object
    Nature of Death: Internal Trauma
    Emergency Duty: Yes
    Duty Type: Responding/Returning from Alarm
    Activity Type: Riding Vehicle/Apparatus
    Fixed Prop. Use: Street/Road

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Grayback Forestry Inc.
    P.O. Box 838
    Merlin, Oregon 97532
    Chief: Mike Wheelock

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter Shirley was one of five contract wildland firefighters killed and six injured when one of the vans carrying employees of Grayback Forestry Inc. left the roadway and rolled over several times while on Interstate 70 in western Colorado. The crew was in transit on what was to be a 30-hour nonstop drive from Oregon to Colorado to join in the fight of the Hayman fire, the largest in Colorado state history.


    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/application....cfm?p_id=1295

  6. #6
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Rama, Daniel

    Age: 28
    Rank: Firefighter/Crew Chief
    Status: Career
    Incident Date: 06/21/2002
    Incident Time: 17:15
    Death Date: 06/21/2002

    Cause of Death: Struck By/Contact with Object
    Nature of Death: Internal Trauma
    Emergency Duty: Yes
    Duty Type: Responding/Returning from Alarm
    Activity Type: Riding Vehicle/Apparatus
    Fixed Prop. Use: Street/Road

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Grayback Forestry Inc.
    P.O. Box 838
    Merlin, Oregon 97532
    Chief: Mike Wheelock

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter Rama was one of five contract wildland firefighters killed and six injured when one of the vans carrying employees of Grayback Forestry Inc. left the roadway and rolled over several times while on Interstate 70 in western Colorado. The crew was in transit on what was to be a 30-hour nonstop drive from Oregon to Colorado to join in the fight of the Hayman fire, the largest in Colorado state history.


    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/application....cfm?p_id=1292

  7. #7
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Martindale, Jake

    Age: 20
    Rank: Firefighter
    Status: Career
    Incident Date: 06/21/2002
    Incident Time: 17:15
    Death Date: 06/21/2002

    Cause of Death: Struck By/Contact with Object
    Nature of Death: Internal Trauma
    Emergency Duty: Yes
    Duty Type: Responding/Returning from Alarm
    Activity Type: Riding Vehicle/Apparatus
    Fixed Prop. Use: Street/Road

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Grayback Forestry Inc.
    P.O. Box 838
    Merlin, Oregon 97532
    Chief: Mike Wheelock

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter Martindale was one of five contract wildland firefighters killed and six injured when one of the vans carrying employees of Grayback Forestry Inc. left the roadway and rolled over several times while on Interstate 70 in western Colorado. The crew was in transit on what was to be a 30-hour nonstop drive from Oregon to Colorado to join in the fight of the Hayman fire, the largest in Colorado state history.


    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/application....cfm?p_id=1294

  8. #8
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Bailey, Bartholomew

    Age: 20
    Rank: Firefighter
    Status: Career
    Incident Date: 06/21/2002
    Incident Time: 17:15
    Death Date: 06/24/2002

    Cause of Death: Struck By/Contact with Object
    Nature of Death: Internal Trauma
    Emergency Duty: Yes
    Duty Type: Responding/Returning from Alarm
    Activity Type: Riding Vehicle/Apparatus
    Fixed Prop. Use: Street/Road

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Grayback Forestry Inc.
    P.O. Box 838
    Merlin, Oregon 97532
    Chief: Mike Wheelock

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter Bailey, who suffered severe injuries and was removed from life support on the 24th of June, was one of five contract wildland firefighters killed and six injured when one of the vans carrying employees of Grayback Forestry Inc. left the roadway and rolled over several times while on Interstate 70 in western Colorado. The crew was in transit on what was to be a 30-hour nonstop drive from Oregon to Colorado to join in the fight of the Hayman fire, the largest in Colorado state history.


    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/application....cfm?p_id=1293

  9. #9
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    Found this site 5 years after the accident

    Found this and felt a little correction was in order.
    The post says the crew was on a 30 non-stop drive. NOT TRUE .
    Crew was ordered to compleate a 20+ hour drive with a motel stop 1/2 way through. We would never attempt a 30 or evan a 20 hour non-stop drive

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