OAKRIDGE, Ore. (KTVZ) – A firefighter from Michigan died Wednesday after being struck by a tree while helping battle the Big Swamp Fire on the Willamette National Forest near Oakridge, officials said.
Shortly after 12:30 p.m., Douglas County Sheriff’s Office 911 dispatchers were notified of the firefighter’s critical injuries and Umpqua Valley Ambulance and REACH Air Medical Services were dispatched to the scene.
Despite lifesaving efforts by medics assigned to the fire, Collin Hagan, 27, of Toviola, Michigan succumbed to his injuries, the sheriff’s office said.
Hagan’s body was flown from the Toketee Airstrip to the Roseburg Regional Airport by the REACH helicopter. Firefighters from the BLM, Forest Service, Roseburg Fire Department and Douglas County Fire District No. 2 stood together to honor Hagan as he was transferred to the care of a funeral service provider. They then provided an honor escort to the funeral home.
“It is a sad day in public safety.” Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said. “On behalf of the men and women of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, I extend my heartfelt sympathies to Firefighter Hagan’s family, friends, co-workers and all who knew this brave young man.”
Hagan was a member of the Craig, Colorado Interagency Hotshots was a Bureau of Land Management firefighter, the Forest Service said, adding that a Serious Accident Investigation Team is being assembled.
“We are devastated by the tragic loss of a cherished firefighter working on our forest to save our communities and beloved recreational areas,” said Duane Bishop, acting supervisor on the Willamette National Forest.
“Their family has been notified, and we are working with our partners to ensure the crew is well taken care of. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and fellow crew members of this brave firefighter.”
The Big Swamp Fire, which has burned about 120 acres about six miles north of Lemolo Lake, is one of three lightning-sparked fires being jointly managed by the forest. It was at zero containment Thursday.
The others are the over 1,000-acre Windigo Fire, 20 miles southwest of La Pine, at 25 percent containment as of Thursday morning, and the Potter Fire, more than 300 acres, eight miles northeast of Toketee Lake, also at zero containment.