U.S. Forest Service Smokejumper Killed in California

A 28-year-old U.S. Forest Service firefighter was killed battling a wildfire in the Modoc National Forest in California.

Luke Sheehy, of Susanville, Calif., was a member of the California Smokejumpers, based in Redding, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

Sheehy was struck by a tree while working on the Saddle Back Fire. Efforts to resuscitate him following the 5 p.m. incident were not successful.

He was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Alturas where he was pronounced dead.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of this brave young smokejumper who lost his life yesterday working with his team to control a blaze on the Modoc National Forest,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “We are launching a full review into the cause of his death to learn everything we can to prevent future tragedies like this.”

Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore echoed Chief Tidwell’s sentiments. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. It’s a devastating loss and is being felt throughout the entire Forest Service.”

The Saddle Back Fire is one of several dozen lightning-caused fires that began on multiple national forests throughout northern California on Sunday and Monday. It was first reported to the Modoc Interagency Communications Center about 3 p.m. Monday. Several U.S. Forest Service firefighters remain on scene suppressing the fire.”