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Incident Name:  Hamm Fire, Stanislaus Complex
Date:  9/11/87
Personnel:  David R. Erickson of the Klamath NF
Age:  34
Agency/Organization:  US Forest Service
Position: firefighter

Summary: On 9/11/87 David Ross Erickson died on the Hamm Fire, Stanislaus Complex, Stanislaus NF, killed when a tree he was cutting toppled onto another tree, which then fell on him. His home forest was the Klamath National Forest in northern California. When wildland firefighters are injured or die, it is not uncommon for them to be far from home.

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General Incident Location: about two miles south of the fire station at Jawbone

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • NWCG Safetygram for 1987 (single page excerpt)
  • A Memorial erected in Memory of David Erickson who died on the Hamm Fire, a Stanislaus Complex Fire (designer and author: Patrick Karnahan for the Forest Service)

    David Ross Erickson David Ross Erickson

  • Inscription on David Erickson's monument says,
    "A U.S. Forest Service crew leader from Siskiyou County, Calif. lost his life while fighting the Stanislaus Complex Fire which destroyed 147,000 acres. For the love of the forest, he gave the ultimate sacrifice September 11, 1987.

    Sit and rest awhile /

    listen to the pines whisper in the light wind /

    gaze at the trees and look upward where branches reach the sky /

    where clouds pass by and day turns to night /

    where memories are everlasting."

  • USFS Heroes Memorial Database: David R. Erickson

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Media Articles and Reports

  • Falling Tree Kills Firefighter as Many Blazes Rage On

    September 13, 1987 | Online Article

    Northern California forest fires claimed their fourth victim Friday when a firefighter working in Stanislaus National Forest was killed by a falling tree. David Ross Erickson, 34, a U.S. Forest Service engine foreman from Etna, Siskiyou County, died when a tree he was cutting toppled onto another tree, which then fell on him. The accident occurred about two miles south of a fire station at Jawbone, according to Jane LaBoa, a spokeswoman for the Fire Information Center. (Fee required to read the rest.)

  • News article photo sent in by Olivia Rahman to the WFF Facebook page; unknown what newspaper or exact publication date.

    David Erickson David Erickson

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • USFA Memorial Database: David R. Erickson
  • Stanislaus Complex Memorial location: at the Rim of the Highway Overlook on Highway 120 east of Buck Meadows California.
  • Message from Patrick Karnahan, regarding the memorial, image and inscription:
    In 1988, I designed the David Erickson Memorial while working on the Stanislaus National Forest. David Erickson, a Forest Service Firefighter, died on the Stanislaus Complex Fire in 1987.

    I picked the idea of the sleeping Grizzly Bear, because when I was a child I saw a monument to troops that had died in battle in WW1, and the artist used a sleeping lion. Around it were the tools of battle, same with my bear, tools of the wildland firefighter. Smokey had something to do with it also! Thanks for taking the time out to remember these heroes. Patrick

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Contributors to this article: Pyro5755, Patrick Karnahan, Strider

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