Incident Name: Initial Attack lightning Saddle Back Fire in the South Warner Wilderness, Modoc National Forest, northeastern CA
Date: June 10, 2013, 5 PM
Personnel: Luke Sheehy
Agency/Organization: US Forest Service
Position: California Smokejumper, based in Redding
Summary: On June 10, 2013 just before 1700 hours, three California Smokejumpers jumped a small initial attack lightning fire -- the Saddle Back Fire -- in the rugged South Warner Wilderness area, about a mile and a half southeast of the Soup Springs Campground. One of the three, Luke Sheehy was hit in the head by a tree limb that fell more than 60 feet before striking him. Efforts to resuscitate Luke were not successful. He was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Alturas where he was pronounced dead.
1.5 mi SE of the Soup Springs Campground in the south Warner Wilderness Area, Modoc National Forest (near the Oregon border)
Location for Soup Springs Campground, lat/lon: 41.30916667, -120.2772222, elevation 6,800 feet. USNG: 10T GL 36 77
- Modoc National Forest Website
- Forest Service announcement:
From: Office of the Chief of the Forest Service
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 12:18 PM
To: ALL FS
Subject: Region 5 Firefighter Fatality
All FS Employees:
It is with a very heavy heart I write to inform you of the loss of a firefighter, a smoke jumper, and one of our Forest Service family. Luke Sheehy, a 28-year-old firefighter from Susanville, Calif., died Monday afternoon as a result of injuries received on a wildfire on the Modoc National Forest in northeast California. Luke, a member of the California Smokejumpers based out of Redding, was struck by a dead tree on the Saddle Back Fire in the South Warner Wilderness about 15 miles southeast of Alturas, Calif. The incident occurred just before 5 p.m. Efforts to resuscitate him 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. We are launching a full review into the cause of his death to learn everything we can to prevent future tragedies like this.
Chief Tom Tidwell
- Region 5 Forest Service News Release
- USFS Heroes Memorial page: Luke Sheehy
- USDA Forest Service: Saddle Back Fire 24-hour Report (357 K pdf)
- USDA Forest Service: Saddle Back Fire Fatality, Modoc NF 72-hour Report (128 K pdf)
- USDA Forest Service: Saddle Back Learning Review (2,533 K pdf) Supporting Information (638 K pdf)
- Redding-based Smokejumper killed while fighting lightning fire
June 11, 2013 | Online Article
Investigators say the 28-year-old Smokejumper, based in Redding, had jumped into the area with two colleagues to battle the fire, when a tree limb fell more than 60 feet, striking him in the head.
- Smokejumper from Redding Area killed in Modoc County
June 11, 2013 | Online Article
A 28-year-old smokejumper from the Redding area was killed Monday while fighting a small lightning-strike fire in the Modoc National Forest.
- California Smokejumpers: Website
- National Smokejumper Association
- Summit Trail in South Warner Wilderness; Photo credit: Jim Gumm and the Modoc National Forest
- Lightning busts June 9 and 10, 2013, just after they passed over the Modoc National Forest area.
- Susanville smokejumper killed fighting wildfire in Modoc County
6/11/2013 | Online article
Sheehy is the son of Doug and Lynn Sheehy. Lynn Sheehy is the Plumas County Librarian. Doug Sheehy is an adjunct faculty in the music department at Lassen Community College in Susanville.
- Govenor Brown Issues statement on death of Redding firefighter
6/11/2013 | Press Release
SACRAMENTO - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued the following statement regarding the death of United States Forest Service Firefighter Luke Sheehy:
“Anne and I were saddened to learn of the death of Firefighter Luke Sheehy, a young man who devoted his life to protecting his fellow Californians. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.”
Firefighter Luke Sheehy, 28, of Susanville, was fatally injured by a section of a falling tree at the scene of a lightning-sparked wildland fire in the Modoc National Forest 15 miles southeast of the community of Alturas.
Firefighter Sheehy was a member of the California Smokejumpers, an airborne firefighting unit of the United States Forest Service based in Redding, California. Prior to his career with the United States Forest Service, he served 5 seasons as a firefighter for CAL FIRE.
In honor of Firefighter Sheehy, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.
From: Jeanne Wade Evans
Deputy Regional Forester, Pacific Southwest Region, USDA Forest Service
The Forest Service is still working with the Sheehy family to understand and honor their wishes for a memorial service for Luke. When the details are worked out with the family we will provide that information.
- Four Photos from 2nd day of Luke's Rookie year 2009: at the start of, and during the 110 pound pack test; as always all smiles and having a great time; last leg of the pack test, with Luke in the lead. ... “I will not die an unlived life.”
- The memorial service for Luke Sheehy is planned for
June 23 at 1 p.m.
at the Civic Auditorium in Redding, Calif.
The Sheehy family has requested that only family members, close friends and the fire community are invited.
Flowers, cards and donations to: Doug and Lynn Sheehy or Sheehy Family, 2850 Main Street, Suite 12, #386, Susanville, CA 96130.
- The Sheehy family invites everyone who loved and cared about Luke to attend a Day of Honor at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22 at Walker Manson in Westwood, Plumas County. Food and refreshments will be provided.
A Luke Sheehy donation account has been opened at U.S. Bank in Susanville for those who would like to make a donation in his memory.
- US Forest Service, Region 5: Webpage in support of services and arrangements
- US Forest Service Media Advisory for Memorial
- USFS News Release: Family, friends of the family and firefighters pay their respects for Luke Sheehy at Honor Escort
- USFA Memorial Database: Luke Sheehy
- US Forest Service Heroes Memorial: Luke Sheehy
- Memorial Service for Luke 6/23/2013, 1PM, Civic Auditorium in Redding, California
- Smokejumper Magazine Article: Live Like Luke! Luke Sheehy Remembered (tributes from friends and fellow jumpers - National Smokejumper Association)
Contributors to this article: Wildland Firefighter Foundation, Mellie, Burk Minor, PIOs, Normbc9, John Miller, Ron Marley (Shasta College) for pack test photos, milehighbar, and the contributions of many others in the wildland firefighting community, especially the Saddle Back Support Team, and all the personnel working on the different memorial services, far too many to list here.
Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation