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Thread: Two Firefighters Die Battling Idaho Wildfire

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    Two Firefighters Die Battling Idaho Wildfire

    Updated: 07-23-2003 11:26:09 AM

    Two Firefighters Die Battling Idaho Wildfire

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    2 Idaho wildland firefighters killed after copter drop

    2 Idaho wildland firefighters killed after copter drop


    Lightning-caused blaze overtook pair

    Chuck Oxley
    Associated Press
    Jul. 24, 2003 12:00 AM


    BOISE, Idaho - Two firefighters were overrun by flames and killed soon after they were dropped by helicopter to battle a fast-moving blaze in a national forest in central Idaho, officials said Wednesday.

    The fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest about 130 miles south of Missoula, Mont., was caused by lightning and first reported Sunday night. High temperatures and wind blew it up from 120 acres to about 1,000 acres Tuesday night, officials said.

    Killed were Jeff Allen, 24, of Salmon, and Shane Heath, 22, of the Boise area. Allen became a seasonal firefighter in 1999. Heath, a Boise State University student, had been a wildland firefighter for four years.

    Allen and Heath were the eighth and ninth firefighters to die since February nationwide, said Alan Hoffmeister, a spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. Only one of the previous deaths was by fire, while the others were helicopter crashes and accidents.

    The firefighters had just rappelled to the ground when they were overtaken by flames.

    The firefighters were part of a "helitack" crew. Such teams travel by helicopter to provide initial response to wildland fires, sometimes dropping crew members on the ground to battle small blazes before they grow into large fires. The crews are deployed to remote, steep and extremely smoky environments.

    Elsewhere in the West, neighbors armed with water tanks on their truck beds pitched in to help protect each others' homes as a cluster of range fires swept across more than 121,300 acres in north-central Montana.

    Residents have built fire lines, watered down yards and helped neighbors pack up valuable belongings since the fires erupted last week.

    In northern Wyoming, evacuations were ordered after a wildfire just outside the Bighorn National Forest moved to within a half-mile of eight mountain homes, bureau spokeswoman Lesley Collins said.

    The blaze had grown to 1,500 acres and was moving northwest. "With the rough terrain and topography and lack of resources, they're just having a hard time trying to contain it," she said.

    About 250 firefighters were battling the fire, which was started by lightning Saturday about 20 miles southwest of Buffalo, Wyo.

    Wildfires this year have charred about 1.46 million acres nationwide, a quieter-than-average wildfire season.

    http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepu...ildfire24.html

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