It is with deep sadness that Firstin passes on the news that four California Forest Service Firemen were killed this week fighting an enormous wildfire. The four are: Engine Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser, 44, of Idyllwild. Loutzenhiser had 21 years of service. Engine operator Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont. He had seven years of service. Assistant engine operator Jason McKay, 27, of Phelan. McKay had five years with the Forest Service experience and four years of experience as a volunteer firefighter. Firefighter Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto. He was in his second season of firefighting. (A 5th fireman was critical with burns over 90% of his body and is not expected to make it).
Fire officials said the ongoing Esperanza blaze that led to the deadly flashover was arson. The firefighters were injured as they manned hoses on a mountain road about 8 a.m. Thursday, when a wind gust sent flames over them so quickly that they had no time to deploy portable fire shelters, according to the Forest Service.
My deepest condolences go out to the families of these brothers. Folks let me say one thing about the firemen out west: They are involved in an altogether different type of firefighting. Unless you have seen one of these wildfires, you can’t understand the magnitude of the event. When I was in California on vacation a couple of years ago we could see the smoke up in the hills and it was nuts! These guys are fighting Mother Nature herself. They rarely hope to extinguish the fire, containment and diversion are the keys to their battles. With more and more dopey tree huggers moving further out into the wilds, the task of saving lives and property gets more complex. These guys were overrun by a wall of flame ten stories high. It is a firemans worst nightmare. God bless them. In case anyone wants to help out:
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors established an “Esperanza Firefighters Assistance Fund” where donations to help families of the fallen fighters can be sent: Attn: Firefighters Assistance Fund, P.O. Box 1645, Riverside, CA, 92502. You can also call 951-955-1010/1030/1050.
This entry was posted on Friday, October 27th, 2006 at 9:44 pm and is filed under LODD. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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