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Thread: LODD California Department of Foresty Loses First Female Firefighter

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    LODD California Department of Foresty Loses First Female Firefighter

    Updated: 09-14-2004 09:17:37 PM

    California Department of Foresty Loses First Female Firefighter in the Line of Duty

    Associated Press

    COLUMBIA, Calif. (AP) -- A member of an elite helicopter wildfire crew has become the first female firefighter from the California Department of Forestry to die in the line of duty, state officials said Monday.

    Officials could give few details about what happened when the seven-member crew was apparently overrun by flames Sunday in rugged terrain of the Stanislaus National Forest.

    The department identified the woman as Eva Schicke, 24, of Arnold.

    ``This is a very difficult day for our department,'' said Jim Wright, chief of fire protection at the CDF. ``It is just a reminder of the danger our firefighters face on a daily basis.''

    Wright said the crew appeared to have been on the ground about an hour. Their job was to use hand tools to build a fire break ahead of the blaze, which had grown to 800 acres Monday and was 20 percent contained.

    Phyllis Banducci, a CDF spokeswoman, said investigators know little about the accident except that it happened in a canyon area and firefighters recorded a change in the wind at about the same time.

    Six other firefighters suffered minor injuries.

    A college student, Schicke had spent 4 1/2 seasons working as a part-time firefighter.

    Because the death happened in a national forest and involved firefighters working for the state, it will be investigated by federal and state fire officials, CDF Director Dale Geldert said.

    The department's helicopter team members are considered among the best firefighters in the system, Wright said.

    In Arnold, mourners erected a roadside memorial that included flowers and balloons arranged between a pair of boots, a helmet, gloves and a shovel. A bulletin board included notes from friends and colleagues.

    George Muedeking, Schicke's academic adviser at California State University at Stanislaus, said she often returned to register for fall classes wearing military fatigues and still smelling of smoke.

    ``Her commitment was very strong when she decided to do something,'' he said. ``She really saw it through.''

    Amid the mourning, fire crews worked to contain a separate wildfire threatening the western Sierra Nevada town of Mariposa, about 50 miles south of the blaze that killed Schicke.

    The flames had burned 2,000 acres and forced the evacuation of about 300 homes in the town of 1,400 residents.

    ``It almost looks like a volcano has erupted. There is so much ash and so much smoke _ miles and miles of it,'' CDF spokeswoman Olivia Luke said.

    A 34-year-old man was in custody on an arson charge, accused of starting the fire with a match inserted inside a cigarette.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=39&id=35036
    Photo below
    California State University-Stanislaus

    Photo of Eva Schicke provided by California State University-Stanislaus, where she played basketball for four years. Schicke, now a California Department of Forestry firefighter, was killed fighting a fire in the Stanislaus National Forest on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2004. Schicke is the first female CDF firefighter killed in the line of duty.

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    Memorial Service Scheduled For Fallen California Firefighter

    Updated: 09-16-2004 03:57:02 PM

    Memorial Service Scheduled For Fallen California Firefighter


    A Full Honors Procession and Funeral for fallen CDF Firefighter Eva Schicke will be held Monday, September 20, 2004, 2:00 PM at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds amphitheater. CDF is requesting that all those planning to attend please respond by noon Sunday, September 19, 2004.

    The following numbers are available for your RSVP; (209)533-6612, 533-6613, 533-6614. Fire agencies are asked to provide number of apparatus with identifiers, number of personnel, and chief officer

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    Thousands Honor California Firefighter Killed In The Line Of Duty

    Updated: 09-20-2004 09:54:40 AM

    Thousands Honor California Firefighter Killed In The Line Of Duty


    Associated Press

    ANGELS CAMP, Calif. (AP) -- Eva Marie Schicke was a small-town girl with a gift for living large.

    Powered by a heart as tenacious as it was generous, she ran her way to a starting position on her college basketball team, became the only woman on a 13-person helicopter firefighting crew, and kept working wildfires on weekends even after she started nursing classes this month.

    Now, thousands of her colleagues from across California and the nation gathered to honor Schicke, who last week became the first female firefighter from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to be killed in the line of duty.

    Her funeral scheduled for Monday was to include all the honors afforded fallen firefighters _ starting with the more than 60 state, federal and local fire trucks that will escort her casket from a funeral home in Sonora to the outskirts of Angels Camp.

    There, more engines, hand crew buses and chief's cars will join a procession to the Calaveras County Fairgrounds, where Schicke, who would have turned 24 next month, was to be eulogized by her mother, her older brother, her fiance, and the president of the CDF firefighter's union.

    ``We do not mourn her today as the first woman firefighter to die in the line of duty. We mourn her simply as a firefighter,'' CDF Firefighters President Bob Wolf said in a statement printed in the funeral program. ``She will not have length of life. She will instead have a permanent and prominent place in the history of CDF.''

    At the end of the memorial service, a fleet of firefighting aircraft was supposed to fly over the fairgrounds. Schicke's crewmates then were to carry her body to a private burial aboard the same helicopter from which she and six colleagues were lowered into the Tuolumne River Canyon before they were overtaken by flames.

    CDF spokeswoman Sharon Torrence said a team composed of investigators from the state forestry department and the U.S. Forest Service still is preparing a report on the circumstances that led to Schicke's death. The group includes specialists in fire behavior, weather patterns and the work of the elite ``helitack'' crews of which Schicke was a part, Torrence said.

    ``They are interviewing everyone from top to bottom, so I imagine there will be a lot of different stories,'' she said.

    As plans for the funeral were being made late last week, Schicke's family thanked the firefighting community and the public for the condolences and prayers sent their way since Schicke died Sept. 12 while battling a fire in Stanislaus National Forest.

    ``Eva's memory will live on in those she knew. She was an amazing, selfless young person who made a positive impact on everyone she met,'' the statement read. ``In her short time with us, Eva was not only the best, but she gave her all _ always _ until the very end.''

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decided against attending after consulting with Schicke's family, which feared the governor's personal fame would overshadow the real star of the day, said CDF Deputy Chief Dick Hayes.

    ``It would have been nice, if he didn't have that celebrity, if he could attend,'' Hayes said.

    Meanwhile, the fire that swept over Schicke and the other crew members in the forest near Sonora was fully contained at 800 acres Friday night.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=39&id=35202

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