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Incident Name: Bull Run
Date: August 20, 2009
Personnel: Steve Uptegrove
Age: 52
Agency/Organization: US Forest Service
Position: firefighter

Summary: On August 21, 2009 firefighter Steve Uptegrove was struck by a falling snag and killed. A 30 year firefighter, he was the station lead and engine foreman in Unity OR (Wallowa-Whitman National Forest) and before that worked on the Malhuer National Forest.

Steve Uptegrove Steve Uptegrove
Steve Uptegrove Steve Uptegrove

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Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Supervisor's Office

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

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Media Articles and Reports

  • Forest Firefighter always had a smile

    8/28/2009 | Online article (Bend Bulletin article no longer online)

    Uptegrove (Upte) grew up in Bend and graduated from Bend High School in 1975. He worked at Mt. Bachelor ski area and as a firefighter for the Deschutes National Forest before moving to other posts with the U.S. Forest Service in a career that spanned more than 30 years. At the time of his death, Uptegrove lived in Prairie City. He had worked for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest since 2006, as station lead and fire engine foreman at the Unity compound.

    After a long day working on a forest fire, “you’d look over at Steve and he was still smiling and still going,” said John Wells, 57, of Bend, who recently retired from his job as battalion chief for the Newberry Division of Central Oregon Fire Management. Wells met Uptegrove 30 years ago, when both men worked as seasonal firefighters in the Deschutes National Forest. (More at the link)

  • Saluting a Fallen Firefighter (with photos of the procession and service)

    9/2/2009 | Online article (Bend Bulletin article no longer online)

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • Forest Service Heroes Memorial: Steven A. Uptegrove
  • Memorial Flyer: Steve Uptegrove memorial in John Day OR (pdf)
  • Memorial Service and Celebration of Life: John Day Service: 1 p.m. Thursday at the Seventh Street Complex in John Day OR; Bend service: A celebration of Steve’s life 1 p.m. Tuesday at Aspen Hall in Shevlin Park, located at 18920 Shevlin Park Road in Bend, OR
  • From the Wallowa-Whitman NF: National Memorial Service to Honor Oregon Fallen Firefighter

    Release Date: Oct 13, 2011 | Contact Joel Livingston

    EMMITSBURG, MD. – The 30th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service will honor an Oregon firefighter who died in the line of duty in 2009. He is among the 72 firefighters who died in 2010 and 17 firefighters who died in previous years who will be remembered at the official national service held at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

    Forestry Technician Steven A. Uptegrove, age 52, of the USDA Forest Service in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, died after being struck by a falling tree while assisting with cleanup in a wilderness area on August 20, 2009.

    The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and the Department of Homeland Security will sponsor the official national tribute on October 16, 2011. (Yet he doesn't appear in the USFA Memorial Database.)

  • They Said it: July 30, 2011 - post from Steve's brother that the China Hat Helibase has been renamed Steve Uptegrove Memorial Helibase

* A poem from Lockdog, 2007:

The Old Fire Dog

It's just a little past the midnight hour
One last time I checking gear
For the dispatcher has been a calling
And I'll soon be far from here

Back out in the blazing brush down south
On the lines in the timbered mountains high
Fighting fire in the urban interface
Or riding steeds of metal in the sky

I shine my brass and re-minis
Of all the friends I've lost
The leering laughs the hardy toasts
and all the cans we tossed

But an old fire dog once told me
Don't grieve for them my Son
Cause they've been told by the Big IC
Welcome home folks and job well done

Take heart from what they gave us
On those cold nights on the lines
Sharing the last of their MREs
Or cooking coffee way up in the pines

As I oil my boots I think about
Together the miles we've walked
Along the steams cool and clear
and of all the things we've talked

They'll never be really gone you know
Not as long as they're in our hearts
They remind us we must carry on
Because they've done their parts

So it's out the door I'm headed
To God knows who knows where
For the tones they are a calling
And there's smoke up in the air

All my friends they are a waiting
Some here and some long gone
But we'll all be there together
With courage and standing strong

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Contributors to this article: Linda Spittler, his sister, Tim Pratt, Burns Brimhall, John Wells, Larry Papa, Pat Williams, Mike, Oats, Rick Calkins, FLK, Tim Lynch, and many, many more firefighters who loved Steve



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