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Incident Name:  MT-SWS-Boles Meadow Fire, 25 mi NE of Missoula, MT
Date: August 15, 2003, 1400 hours
Personnel: Wayne W Mickle
Age: 48
Agency/Organization: Montana DRC
Position: firefighter, member of the MA Wildfire Crew, Massachusetts Bureau of Forest Fire Control

Summary: Firefighter Mickle and other members of his Massachusetts wildland firefighting crew were assigned to the Boles Meadow Fire near Missoula, Montana. The crew had been working the fire for 4 days. After a day of working the fire, Wayne spoke with his wife by phone and complained that he was not feeling well. He told her that he was thinking of seeking medical attention but apparently decided to turn in for the night. He was found dead by other firefighters the next morning. The cause of death was listed as a heart attack. (From the USFA database.)


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Boles Meadow Fire Origin, not the death location but the fire Wayne was suppressing with the crew earlier in the day.

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

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Media Articles and Reports

  • Montana- Power Company: wildfires may cause more blackouts

    August 16, 2003 | Online article

    Authorities said Montana suffered its first firefighter death this season on Friday. A 48 year old firefighter from Massachusetts was found dead in his tent at a fire camp outside Missoula. The man's name was not released; authorities said the death remained under investigation.

  • Massuchetts Firefighter Dies Working Montana Wildfire

    8/19/2003 | Online article (No longer online at

    Wayne Mickle, 48, a firefighter that worked for the Massachusetts Wildfire Crew, Bureau for Forest Fire Control recently died of an apparent heart attack in his tent while working at Boles Meadow (Mineral and Primms Peak) Fire camp in Condon, MT. Mickle was dispatched from his state job to the wildland firefighting assignment with the National Interagency Fire Center. He was battling forest fires near Missoula, Montana (Boles/Rattlesnake fire complex) and had reportedly complained in a phone call to his wife after coming off of the fire line that he was not feeling well and might seek medical attention.

    The visitation is scheduled for this afternoon from 4-7 p.m. and the funeral service is tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Dwyer Funeral Home. The funeral home is located at 776 North St., Pittsfield, MA 01201-4110.

    In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism in care of the Dwyer Funeral Home. (more at the link)

  • 2013 crew from Massachusetts describes the experience of fighting wildfire in Montana

    Local firefighters get taste of wildfire in the West : Part of a Massachusetts crew just returned from Montana

    September 8, 2013 | Online Article

    Walker Korby, Jesse Hanecak and Daniel Thayer just got back from 21 days in the Lolo National Forest in west-central Montana. But their stay was anything but a vacation. The three Franklin County firefighters were part of a 20-member team that the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation sent to Montana on Aug. 16, to battle wildfires sparked by hot and dry weather and scattered “dry” thunderstorms that produced hundreds of lightning strikes in the region.

    “This trip was unique,” said Korby, a Montague Center firefighter. “We were on what’s called the initial attack team. ... We were on duty every day.”


    “My first trip was 10 years ago, in the Tally Lakes District of Montana,” Korby recalled. “We lost a fella’ in our crew. He died of heart complications. Wayne Mickle. It’s weird being out here for the anniversary of his death. We didn’t get a chance to go to that side of the area, though.” (more at the link)

  • Photo of the 2013 crew  in Montana taken by Firefigther Jesse Hanecak

    2013 Massachusetts crew 2013 Massachusetts crew

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • Funeral Arrangements:
    Tuesday, Aug. 19,2003 at 1100hrs at Dwyer Funeral Home, 776 North St., Pittsfield, MA. Calling hours will be Monday, Aug. 18, from 1600hrs to 1900hrs at the funeral home.

    Memorial Fund Info:
    In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism
  • Memorial at the State Forest Fire Barn in Foxboro, Massachusetts

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Contributors to this article: ModocHotshotMom, inspired by Heather De Paolo Johnny


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