Incident Name: Big Bar Complex, CA; crew and transport had just been demobed and were on their way home, staying overnight in Anderson, CA staging.
Personnel: Richard E Blood of Caldwell, ID
Agency/Organization: Special Operations
Position: crew transport driver, private wildland fire support
Summary: At the end of the Big Bar Complex, crews that were demobing often needed to stay a last night in the Anderson CA Fairgrounds Staging Area before going home. Among those leaving was the crew for which Dick Blood provided transport. During the night or early morning of that last night, Dick was violently stabbed to death (violently stabbed 7 times) as he slept in the back of his transport vehicle. He was rolled in a rug and left to bleed out, and was not found until the next morning.
Mellie's comments: I met and visited with Dick, the transport driver, on the Denny Road during that Big Bar Complex of fires in October, 1999. He was ex-military, soft-spoken, intelligent and retired. He had disagreed with the crewboss of the crew he was transporting when the crewboss was repeatedly drunk (and/or "high") and disorderly. Fire has a standard of "zero tolerance" for alcohol and drugs and this person was violating that standard. It was suspected that the crewboss who had been stripped of his position after being caught with alcohol had something to do with Dick's death, perhaps because he feared what Dick might say against him. Several years later (2001) that person was drunk and disorderly at a social gathering in Arizona and was killed by his own local law enforcement. Suicide by cop?
Dick's was a very, very sad and unnecessary death.
General Anderson CA Fairgrounds Location
- Theysaid: 2/18/2000
- Hotlist: 2007 thread with articles
- Note to theysaid 11/4/1999:
I thought fire people would be interested to know that early this week the Wildland Fire Fighter Foundation, the new Firefighter Fund administrators, gave a check for $5,000 to Dick Blood's widow in a small ceremony at the firefighter memorial located on the campus of Boise Interagency Fire Center.
Dick Blood was killed while serving as a crew bus driver on the Big Bar Complex and was working for Special Operations, a fire service contractor. Blood was killed at the Anderson, CA Fairgrounds by an unknown person or persons. The investigation of this murder is being handled by the Anderson Police Department, and while no suspects have been named or arrested the Department is still actively working on the case.
The long delay for the Firefighter Fund to respond to this sad incident was caused by the problems of moving the Fund from the National Forest Foundation to the newly established Wildland Firefighter Foundation that is also the "keeper" of The Wildland Firefighters Monument at the Boise Fire Base.
The Fund was established to help firefighters and their families when bad things happen shortly after the Storm King Incident, has a goal to provide financial help immediately when a firefighter or family needs immediate help.
We hope the new administrators of the Fund will help make this fund achieve the goal of immediate and humanitarian assistance when needed without the problems that were encountered in helping Mrs. Blood. Money for the fund comes from fire agencies and private donations.
We are pleased to support the fund, but the similarity of names is coincidental. We are separate organizations.
John Marker of the Wildland Firefighters Magazine
- Widow sues fire agencies
Driver was killed last year in Big Bar Complex camp - Richard Blood
11/2/2000 | Record Searchlight (no longer online)
The widow of a slain bus driver is suing the state, claiming officials didn't properly secure the Shasta County fire camp in which her husband was stabbed to death last year. Shirley Blood's husband, 63-year-old Richard Eugene Blood of Caldwell, Idaho, was found dead Oct. 29, 1999, in the rear of a bus he used to transport fire crews to a blaze in Trinity County. No arrests have been made.
The lawsuit, filed in Shasta County Superior Court on Oct. 26, claims security officials failed to prevent some crew members from drinking alcohol, taking drugs, fighting and entering off-limits parts of the Shasta District Fair grounds fire camp. It also claims officials didn't adequately patrol and guard the camp, including the perimeter, leaving Blood subject to an "unreasonable risk of harm." State officials "didn't do what they were supposed to do in terms of providing a secure area for the drivers," Redding lawyer Dugan Barr said Tuesday.
Named as defendants are three state agencies, including the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Division of Fairs and Expositions and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF). Fifty individuals whom the plaintiffs have not yet identified are also mentioned. A CDF spokeswoman in Sacramento did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.
Blood's body was found by fellow bus drivers. He had been stabbed multiple times. Police have said little about the crime for fear of compromising the investigation. But the killing appeared to have something to do with Blood's job as a fire crew bus driver and doesn't look like a random act, Anderson police Lt. Clancy Finmand has said. Investigators traveled twice to undisclosed locations in the Southwest to interview firefighters, but no suspects have emerged.
Shirley Blood and the couple's two grown children, Richard E. Blood II and Janan Heppler, all of Caldwell, Idaho, filed the suit after a claim was rejected by the state in June. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money.
Since no charges have been filed in the murder case, police reports detailing the crime have not been released. The allegations in the civil suit stem primarily from conversations with witnesses and other people involved, Barr said. Meanwhile, the large number of "John Doe" defendants will likely shrink once more information becomes available, Barr said. "It's very unclear who was in charge down there," he said.
Hundreds of firefighters from several Western states spent two months at the camp while fighting the Big Bar Complex in Trinity County. At the time of the killing, the blaze had slowed and firefighters were getting ready to leave.
The day before Blood was found dead, some crew members became angry with him when he did not transport them to a certain location at the fire, Barr said.
"They wanted him to drive all the way in, and he wouldn't do that or couldn't do that," Barr said. "There had been some hostility expressed toward him." Blood may have told security officials about the disagreement, Barr said.
The next day, the lawsuit alleges, at least one person entered the bus — an area off-limits to fire crew members — and stabbed Blood while he slept.
The lawsuit also alleges some of the fire crew members had "a known history of . . . illegal, dangerous and/or violent behavior." At the fire camp, that behavior may have included alcohol consumption and marijuana and methamphetamine use, Barr said.
Finmand said police weren't aware of any reports of drug use by firefighters.
- Probe of Shasta killing leads to slain suspect
4/3/2001 | online article (no longer online, but archived)
In a bizarre twist to a bizarre mystery, Anderson police officers Monday said they believe they have finally tracked down the killer of a fire crew bus driver who was slain in October 1999.
The suspect was himself killed by police at the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona last month.
According to Anderson Police Detective Sgt. Glenn Tuschen, Richard Eugene Blood, 63, was found stabbed to death in the back of a fire crew transport bus in a parking lot of the Shasta District Fairgrounds.
Blood, from Caldwell, Idaho, worked for Special Operations Group, of Cody, Wyo., a private company that specializes in providing services for fire and disaster personnel.
There were more than 400 people in the temporary camp, set up when fires were sweeping thousands of nearby acres.
The following month, Anderson detectives went to the San Carlos reservation to follow some leads. At that time, they took a blood sample from Steve Victor, 27, who had been a crew chief of the unit of firefighters that Blood had been ferrying.
Tuschen said that by the end of last year it became apparent some of the blood found at the scene belonged to Victor, and Anderson officers asked the FBI for help in finding Victor.
On March 7, the FBI office in Phoenix called Anderson to say that Victor had been killed by police on the reservation the day before.
Tuschen said the story he was told had Victor attending an uncle's wake and, for reasons unknown, he began stabbing himself in the abdomen. Police were called and Victor allegedly attacked a police sergeant with the knife and was fatally shot.
The night before Blood's slaying, Victor had allegedly been caught drinking alcohol and was stripped of his job as crew boss. He also faced a possible two-year suspension as a firefighter, Tuschen said.
Redding attorney Dugan Barr, who has been hired by Blood's widow, Shirley Blood, said he has learned that Blood "was directly involved in the situation where (Victor) was caught (drinking) red-handed."
Barr said that by killing Blood, Victor would have eliminated a critical witness.
"This case will not be considered closed," Tuschen said. He noted that investigators have not ruled out the possibility that others may have been involved as lookouts while Blood, a retired Air Force major who came up through the ranks, was killed.
Barr had much praise for the way the Anderson police have handled the case and their attitude toward Blood's widow.
"They brought her down here from Idaho and very carefully showed her everything they had and how the case had developed through DNA, all before they informed the media and the public," he said.
"They set a standard I think all police departments should follow," Barr said.
"She (Shirley Blood) is sorry she will never be able to face her husband's murderer, but she's glad that he will never harm anyone else," he said.
Blood's family filed suit in Shasta Superior Court last November, saying the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection did not adequately provide security in the camp and did not control drug and alcohol abuse there.
But, said Barr, the papers were never served on the state and this latest twist may lead to moving the case to federal court.
"We now, after the investigation, think that the state forestry department had made arrangements to lease the fairgrounds but that control of the operations there had been turned over to the federal government shortly before Mr. Blood was killed," Barr said.
"The dangerous conditions on the property may have been the result of the state having moved its (security) people out before the federal government could move their's in," he said.
- Find a Grave: Richard E Blood
Buried in Wilder Cemetery, Wilder, Canyon County, Idaho
Contributors to this article: Mellie
Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation