Falling Tree Kills Firefighter In Central Oregon

Aug 2, 2013

Authorities are identifying the wildland firefighter who was killed Thursday outside the town of Sisters as John Hammack of Central Oregon. Another firefighter was injured in the accident and was taken to a local hospital. 

Shadow Lake Wildfire located 15 miles west of Sisters. The fire began August 28th and burning entirely within the Mt. Washington Wilderness. Photo taken Sept. 10, 2011, from Mt. Washington pullout off Highway 20.
Shadow Lake Wildfire located 15 miles west of Sisters. The fire began August 28th and burning entirely within the Mt. Washington Wilderness. Photo taken Sept. 10, 2011, from Mt. Washington pullout off Highway 20.
Credit Mary R Bernsen

On Wednesday night, the skies over Central Oregon were lit up by more than 700 lightning strike. Hammick was a part of a tree falling team helping put out new fire starts. He was working with 45-year-old Norman Crawford of Sisters when a tree they were cutting fell on them.

Fire information officer Lisa Clark says the men were contractors with R&K Water Services out of Bonney Lake, Washington.

She says the work they were doing is dangerous, but it's also important.

Clark: "In many cases we can't even get to the fire until they're made safe, because you just don't know at what point one of those leaning trees, burning trees or dead snags can fall on you."

According to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, 28 wildland firefighters nationwide have died in the line of duty so far this year.

Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting