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Incident Name: Jones Fire-Equipment Incident near Redding, CA
Date: 10/16/1999
Personnel: Karen Jane Savage
Age: 44
Agency/Organization: Junction City Fire Department / Hawkins Bar Volunteer Fire Department
Position: Volunteer

Summary: Firefighter/EMT Karen Savage and three other members of the Hawkins Bar and Junction City Volunteer Fire Departments in northern CA had responded to the Jones wildland fire near Redding, California that had developed into firestorm conditions under north winds and heavy interface fuel-loadings. The fire eventually consumed 26,000 acres and destroyed 75 homes as it raged through small towns, and brush and forested lands near Redding CA. Karen and the other firefighters stopped at a support vehicle to get supplies near the town of Bella Vista, 8 mi from Redding. As she stepped up on the running board to hand supplies to other firefighters on the engine, the vehicle began to move. Firefighter Savage fell or jumped off balance from the engine and died under its rear wheels. Her partner, Bob Feezer, also a volunteer firefighter, was on the scene and witnessed the accident.

Karen Savage, 1999 Karen Savage, 1999

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

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Media Articles and Reports.

  • Redding Newspaper on the web:

    10/16/1999 | Gusts of Fire -- Hundreds Flee Blaze; Accident Kills Firefighter (737 K pdf)

  • USFS Fire News: Oct 22, 1999 (early FS news webpage, Kelly Andersson, ed.)
    • Northern California Ablaze Again

      OCTOBER 17 -- REDDING, CA: Fires pushed by gusting north winds and single-digit humidities are raging across northern California again, burning more than 80 homes in the Redding area and racing across tens of thousands of acres over the weekend. Several small towns have been evacuated, other evacuations are in progress, and one firefighter lost her life.

      According to a report in the Sacramento Bee, nearly 3000 firefighters from as far south as San Diego were working on the 15,000-acre Jones Fire near Redding yesterday, and a 44-year-old volunteer firefighter from Trinity County was killed in an accident involving her engine on Highway 299. "Without volunteers like her," said Gov. Gray Davis last night, "the ravenous appetite of wildfires in California, like the Jones Fire, would devour many more homes and endanger many more lives than have been lost thus far." The fire started along Backbone Ridge Road in Jones Valley, according to KRCR-TV, then burned south through Bella Vista and crossed Highway 299, pushed by winds gusting between 40 and 50 mph. According to the Northern California Coordination Center, the fire was over 15,000 acres last night, and more than 200 structures were threatened. Nearly 30 crews were on the fire, along with eight helicopters and 170 engines. Late this afternoon, the fire was reported at 20 percent containment.

    • Northern California Fires Update

      OCTOBER 18 -- REDDING, CA: Winds have died down and firefighters are getting a handle on the fires that raged through northern California over the weekend. The Jones Fire is 82 percent contained this morning with full containment expected at midnight tonight. It burned nearly 26,000 acres in grass and shrub, destroying at least 100 homes. Damage assessment teams continue to assess the structures lost. Most of the roads are open and evacuations have been lifted. Flags were at half-staff yesterday around Junction City, the small Trinity County hometown of Karen Savage, the volunteer firefighter who died Saturday working on the fire, according to an sfgate.com report.

      On the Big Bar Complex, the Megram Fire escaped firelines in three separate locations. An inversion layer prevented air operations on most of the fire yesterday. There are nearly 1,600 personnel working on the fire and additional fire resources have been ordered. No communities are threatened and no evacuations have occurred or are planned. The Pendola Fire on the Tahoe National Forest has burned 9,000 acres in mixed conifer and manzanita. Mandatory evacuations remain in effect from Challenge to Dobbins. No structures have been confirmed as destroyed but an assessment team has been initiated to assess the damage. The fire is 50 percent contained with full containment expected on Wednesday.

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • California Memorial Firefighter Wall in Sacramento, CA: California Memorial LODDs by Wall Order. (84 K pdf) --see page 21
  • Fallen Trinity firefighter Karen Savage to be honored

    10/14/2009 | Trinity Journal | no longer online

    Karen Savage, the Trinity County firefighter who died 10 years ago fighting the Jones Fire in Shasta County, will be remembered during a tribute this Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Bella Vista Fire Department. Savage, a 44-year-old mother of three, died Oct. 16, 1999, when she fell beneath the wheel of a fire engine. A longtime member of the Hawkins Bar Volunteer Fire Department who moved to Junction City a short time before the Jones Fire, Savage was in a group of Trinity County volunteer firefighters who went to Shasta County to help fight the blaze. The fire burned 26,200 acres and 954 structures.

    The Jones Fire Memorial Dinner hosted by the Bella Vista Volunteer Fire Department will be held at the fire hall to honor Savage and other volunteer firefighters. The spaghetti dinner will be held from 5:30 to 8 p m., with a tribute to Savage planned for 6:30 p.m. A donation of $10 for adults and $7 for children is recommended.

    The Bella Vista Fire Department is located at 22028 Highway 299 in Bella Vista, across the street from the Dry Creek Station, roughly eight miles east of Redding.

    A wildland firefighter:

    * who was requested to respond, dispatched to, or assigned to a wildland fire incident.

    * assigned to or engaged in prescribed burning or other wildfire use projects.

    * who was receiving training for wildfire credentials or certification.

  • Women in Fire & Emergency Services: In Memoriam Karen Jane Savage
  • USFA Memorial Database: Karen Jane Savage
  • In the weeks prior to the Jones Fire, Karen had fought fire on the Big Bar Complex [Onion and Megram Fires, 1999]. She was well-known in our community as a greatly respected Trinity Alps Wilderness search-and-rescue EMT, a fine person and an excellent mom. She left behind two wonderful small girls: Anna (10) and Emme (6) in 1999 and an older daughter Sandra (25). - Mellie
  • Tribute Sign to Karen Savage Near Denny, CA Tribute Sign to Karen Savage Near Denny, CA

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Contributors to this article: Mellie, members of the Hawkins Bar Volunteer Fire Department.

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