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Incident Name: small Florence fire in Seeley Lake Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest in Montana
Date: 7/19/2017
Personnel: Trenton Martin Johnson
Age: 19
Agency/Organization: Grayback Forestry, Inc., 1150 Ort Lane, Merlin, Oregon 97532-0838
Position: wildland firefighter

Summary: While part of a 20-person crew staging an initial attack on a forest fire in the Sealy Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest in Montana, Firefighter Trenton Johnson was struck by a falling tree. He was flown to a Missoula hospital for treatment, but passed away from the injuries he sustained when struck. (from USFA records)

Photo credit: Grayback Forestry

Trenton Johnson Trenton Johnson

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Maps

small (1/2 acre) Florence fire near Florence Lake, about 9 mi northeast of Seeley Lake in MT

flown to St Patrick's Hospital, Missoula, MT where pronounced dead

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • PRESS RELEASE from Grayback Forestry

    http://www.graybackforestry.com/News.asp?NewsID=44

    Statement For Immediate Release

    July 19, 2017 -- It’s with sadness that Grayback Forestry, Inc. confirms that on July 19th, an employee was killed in the line while fighting forest fire on the Sealy Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest in Montana.

    The employee, 19-years-old and a resident of Missoula, Montana, was part of a 20-person attack crew. He was struck by a falling tree. His name is being withheld pending notification of his family.

    We will provide further details as they become known on the Grayback Forestry website: www.graybackforestry.com.

    Contact:

    Kelli Matthews, Media Liaison

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

  • Grayback Forestry Firefighter Fatality

    http://www.graybackforestry.com/News.asp?NewsID=45

    July 20, 2017 -- It’s with sadness that Grayback Forestry, Inc. confirms that on July 19th, Trenton Johnson, a Grayback employee, was killed while fighting forest fire on the Seely Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest in Montana.

    Trenton was 19-years-old and a resident of Missoula, Montana. This was Trenton’s first year as a firefighter and second tour of duty this season.

    Trenton was part of a 20-person Type 2 Initial Attack crew based in Missoula. At approximately 10:30 a.m., the crew was dispatched to a small lightning fire.

    The crew was split into two groups of 10 to attack two different fires. Upon arrival they tied in with an existing crew to review strategy on engaging the fire. LCES (lookouts, communication, escape routes and safety) procedures were followed.

    As the crew was getting lined out, a top broke out of a burning tree towards the crew boss and 3 others. Trenton was struck by the snag. He was taken to the nearest heliport approximately half mile from the fire. He was airlifted to Saint Patrick Hospital at that time and was later declared deceased.

    Trenton was a sophomore at Montana State University in Bozeman. He attended Hellgate High School in Missoula and ran cross country.

  • Celebration of Fallen Firefighter Trenton Johnson

    http://www.graybackforestry.com/News.asp?NewsID=46

    A family Celebration of Trenton Johnson's life, where family and close friends will come together to honor Trenton and his love for life, will take place on Saturday, July 22nd at Missoula Alliance Church, Missoula MT I :00 pm.

    The family would like to encourage the fire community and friends to attend a memorial gathering following the service from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 pm for individuals to pay their respects and offer condolences at the Fort Missoula Regional Park Bella Vista Pavilion, 3501 South A venue Missoula, MT 5980.

    Below is the link for donations to benefit both the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (link below) and the Trenton Johnson Lacrosse Scholarship fund that has been set up.​ The family thanks the media and the general public in respecting their request for privacy.

 

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Media Articles and Reports

  • Firefighter Killed by Falling Tree Snag in Western Montana

    Trenton Johnson was a member of a 20-person Type II initial attack firefighting crew
    July 20, 2017 | Online Article (Dillon Tabish, Flathead Beacon)

    A 19-year-old Missoula man was killed July 19 by a falling tree snag while fighting a wildfire north of Seeley Lake.

    The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as Trenton M. Johnson.

    Johnson was a member of a 20-person Type II initial attack firefighting crew with Grayback Forestry, an Oregon-based private contract company that supplies resources for fire incidents.

    Johnson sustained injuries from a tree snag falling on him while fighting the Florence Fire on the Seeley Lake Ranger District at around 5 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office. No other injuries were reported.

    Johnson was flown to Missoula but was later pronounced dead at St. Patrick’s Hospital.

    Johnson, a graduate of Missoula Hellgate High School and a sophomore at Montana State University, was in his first season as a wildland firefighter and on his second assignment this summer. At roughly 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, the crew was dispatched to a small lightning fire reported north of Seeley Lake.

    The crew was split into two groups of 10 to attack two different fires, according to Grayback Forestry spokesperson Kelli Matthews. Upon arrival, the groups tied in with an existing crew to review strategy for engaging the fire. The wildland fire procedure known as LCES — lookouts, communication, escape routes and safety — were followed, according to Matthews.

    As the crew was getting lined out, the top of a burning tree broke and fell towards the crew boss and three other firefighters. Johnson was struck. He was taken to the nearest heliport approximately a half-mile from the incident.

    Snags, or dead, burned trees that frequently break from the top, are among the worst hazards on wildfire incidents. Since 2001, 15 firefighters have died from snags or hazard trees in the U.S.

    “This is a tragic day for Missoula and all of Montana as we mourn the loss of firefighter Trenton Johnson,” Montana Sen. Jon Tester said in a statement. “His bravery and sacrifice will not be forgotten. This is a sobering reminder that every day firefighters put their lives on the line to protect ours. Sharla and I send our thoughts to Mr. Johnson’s family and friends, and we pray for comfort and healing during this difficult time.”

    Gov. Steve Bullock also issued a statement:

    “Firefighters dedicate their lives each day to ensure the safety of our communities. Lisa and I send our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of firefighter Trenton Johnson. He will forever be remembered as a brave man who exemplifies the courage and selflessness of all our first responders.”

    The sheriff’s office is investigating the incident.

 

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