Date: 10/08/2000, 1545 hrs; died 11/08/2000
Personnel: Albert Roger "Bo" Rathbun
Agency/Organization: Sundance Volunteer Fire Department
Summary: Firefighter Bo Rathbun was severely burned while cutting a fire break with hand tools. A change of wind "blew up" a pile of smoldering debris at a wildland fire in an area that was thought to be safe. Firefighter Rathbun attempted to outrun the advancing flames, but he fell and was severely burned. Firefighter Rathbun was transported to a burn unit at a hospital in Greeley, Colorado with third degree burns over 40 percent of his body and second degree burns over 10 percent. Firefighter Rathbun suffered a stroke while in the hospital. Despite treatment for his injuries, Firefighter Rathbun died on November 8, 2000.
In an interview that he gave to a local newspaper the day before the fire, Firefighter Rathbun said that he had fought his last fire and that he was retiring from his department. The day after the interview, Firefighter Rathbun and his son were working on their ranch when they saw smoke, responded, and helped to control the fire. (USFA database)
Sundance Volunteer Fire Department, Sundance WY
- USFA Memorial Database: Albert Roger "Bo" Rathbun
Wyoming Firefighter Succumbs to Burns
11/10/2000 | Firehouse.com (no longer online)
Roger "Bo" Rathbun, the Sundance, Wyo., volunteer firefighter who has been at North Colorado Medical Center for the past month for treatment of severe burns, died early Wednesday. Rathbun, 69, was injured Oct. 8, as he and his son were fighting a forest fire near their northeastern Wyoming ranch. He and his wife, Crystal, came to Greeley because of NCMC's Burn Unit. He'd suffered second and third-degree burns over most of his body, and he also suffered a stroke while in the hospital.
While her husband was being treated, Crystal spent nearly every day in a nearby waiting room. She could only see her unconscious husband if she first dressed in sterile clothing. But while here, Crystal was "adopted" by the Union Colony Fire/Rescue Authority firefighters, who visited her each day, set up a fund-raising campaign for the family,and even took her to fire stations to meet other firefighters. Last month, Crystal expressed her appreciation to the hospital and to Greeley firefighters, who were helping her through the crisis.
Her husband was a volunteer firefighter in Sundance for 50 years. The family ranch is outside Sundance, near the Devil's Tower National Monument. Denise Rathbun, one of the couple's children, said her father died about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.
- Journey (pdf download) includes a poem by Bo's wife, Crystal.
Contributors to this article:
Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation