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Incident Name:
Date: 5/29/1997; died 5/30/1997
Personnel: David Ray
Age: 21
Agency/Organization: CA Department of Forestry - Conservation Corps, La Cima Camp Fire Center, Julian, California

Summary: "Firefighter David Ray died as a result of a heat stroke after fighting a brush fire. The fire started when a tractor mover hit a rock, producing a spark. Over 140 firefighters fought the fire. Two firefighters went to the hospital after collapsing from heat stroke. According to news articles, this was Firefighter Ray's first fire. Firefighter Ray's crew was assigned to cut line on a hillside. Winds at the time were light and Westerly. The temperature was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit by early afternoon, and the humidity level was under 15%. After a long period on line cutting (which included one break), Firefighter Ray manifested symptoms of heat stress. Despite the immediate on-scene attention of his crew and quick evacuation to a hospital, his condition deteriorated rapidly to heat stroke. He did not regain consciousness and died early the next morning."

Photo credits: Frank J Wacaser and Martha Ray, respectively, from Find A Grave.

David Ray David Ray
David Ray David Ray


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La Cima Camp, Fire Center, Julian, CA


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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Excerpt from Protective Clothing for Wildland Fire Suppression ...

    Protective Clothing for Wildland Fire Suppression

    The article that this was transcribed from is no longer online -- was at under archives_files/mauney_wildland.pdf

    The following portion was apparently a MTDC review of deaths of firefighters (1985-1999) wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) not designed for wildland fire conditions.

    The following has info on firefighters that died... Ch 8 (pp 26-27) heart attack and heat stroke fatalities.

    "The following individual firefighter fatality information was obtained from NFPA, NIOSH, and OSHA investigation reports as well as personal interviews with department personnel."

    6.2 Mid-West and West Coast Fatalities


    On May 29, 1997, California Department of Forestry Firefighter David Ray died of heat stroke while fighting a wildland fire. The CDF utilizes a heavier two-layer wildland PPE.

    A second CDF firefighter also suffered heat stroke but survived. A third CDF firefighter suffered heat exhaustion, which caused him to fall, fracturing his shoulder. Six additional firefighters also suffered advanced heat stress injuries. The CDF is now responding to CAL/OSHA citations.

  • MTDC: 1993 - Components of Wildland Fire Personal Protective Equiipment (PPE)
  • David Ray's name, death date and brief bio are included in the USFA Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study, published April 2002 (2,888 K pdf)
  • USFA Memorial Database: David Michael Ray
  • California Death Index: David Michael Ray

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