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Incident Name: Lolo Peak Fire, Lolo National Forest, western Montana
Date: August 2, 2017, around 3PM
Personnel: Brent M Witham
Age: 29
Agency/Organization: US Forest Service
Position: Vista Grande Hotshot crew wildland firefighter

Summary:

On August 2, 2017, firefighter Brent Witham was struck and killed by a falling tree in a tree-felling accident while working on the Lolo Peak fire in western Montana. Witham was given CPR and other emergency medical aid by fellow firefighters and was then airlifted to a hospital in Missoula, Montana. Despite all efforts, Witham passed away as a result of his injuries. Firefighter Witham was a member of the Vista Grande Hotshot crew based in Idyllwild, California.

Photo credit: US Forest Service

<img class="joomslide" src="/images/incidents/images/2017-08-02-brent-witham.jpg" alt="Brent Witham" title="Brent Witham" longdesc="Brent Witham" />

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Maps

the McClain Creek area south of Lolo, MT; north of Florence

Lolo Peak Fire activity, Aug 3, 2017

<img class="joomslide" src="/images/incidents/images/2017-08-02-lolo-peak-fire.jpg" alt="Lolo Peak Fire Aug 3, 2017" title="Lolo Peak Fire Aug 3, 2017" longdesc="Lolo Peak Fire Aug 3, 2017" />

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Missoula County Sheriff: Press Release
  • US Forest Service Lolo Peak Fire: Daily Sit Report, Aug 3, 2017
  • US Forest Service: 24-hour report (will post when available)
  • US Forest Service: 72 hour report, etc (will post when available)

 

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

  • Wildfire News:

 

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Media Articles and Reports

  • Mentone firefighter known for his sense of humor
  • 08/05/17 | Online Article (San Bernardino Sun)

    Mentone >> Brent Witham - the 29-year-old Mentone firefighter who was killed earlier this week battling a blaze in Montana - could always bring a smile to your face, his family says. On Saturday, Witham's family released a statement about the Redlands East Valley High graduate who worked with the Idyllwild-based Vista Grande Hotshots US Forest Service crew. (More at the link above...)

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • USFA Memorial Database: Brent M Witham
  • USFS: Witham Memorial Blogspot

    8/7/2017 Memorial Update

    WITHAM MEMORIAL CEREMONY

    USDA Forest Service · 602 S Tippecanoe · San Bernardino · CA · 92408 - 909-382-2695 · www.withammemorialceremony.blogspot.com · withammemorialinfo@gmail.com

    August 7, 2017, 7:00 p.m., San Bernardino, CA - The body of Brent Witham was returned home to San Bernardino, California today. Brent died in the line of duty while engaged in firefighting efforts in Montana on August 2nd, on the Lolo Peak Fire. He was transported with honor, officially escorted the entire way home by Forest Service Law Enforcement and Honor Guard.

    Brent was taken from the mortuary in Missoula, Montana to the Aerial Fire Depot where his Forest Service comrades escorted him aboard a Forest Service Sherpa aircraft, which flew him to the San Bernardino air tanker base. He was met there by his family, his crew, leadership from the San Bernardino National Forest and representatives of many other agencies wishing to honor him. He was then taken to the Montecito Memorial Park Cemetery in a processional that stretched nearly a mile long with more than 50 vehicles participating.

    Behind the hearse were members of his family, friends, the Vista Grande Hotshot crew, and many, many firefighting engines and emergency vehicles representing numerous agencies from surrounding cities and counties. At several locations along the route, agency personnel and members of the community gathered along the route to pay special tribute; there was an especially large contingent of uniformed personnel and engines in front of the San Bernardino National Forest Headquarters.

    As the procession reached the entrance to the Montecito Memorial Park & Cemetary, it passed under a large United States flag suspended high in the air by two fire department ladder trucks. Firefighters saluted their brother, Brent, as the motorcade entered the gates of the park.

    The tribute to Brent continues into the week: two large condolence “cards” will be made available at the San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor’s Office, located at 602 S. Tippecanoe Avenue in San Bernardino, California, 92408, beginning at noon on August 8th through the evening of August 9th. People are encouraged to stop by and write messages and/or condolences for the family. The cards will then be given to Brent’s family as a keepsake and remembrance of Brent. Cards may also be mailed to the address listed above. Emails with “CONDOLENCES” typed in the “subject” line may be sent to withammemorialinfo@gmail.com

  • USFS: August 9, 2017, 8:00 p.m., San Bernardino, CA - The Witham Memorial Ceremony, honoring fallen firefighter Brent Witham, Vista Grande Hotshot, is scheduled to take place on August 10th at the National Orange Show, Orange Pavilion, Arrowhead entrance, San Bernardino, CA 92408. The memorial service will begin at 10:00 am and doors will open at 9:00 am. Anyone who would like to attend is welcome. 
  • U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT): "My thoughts and prayers go to their families and to all the brave men and women who are protecting our lives and property while facing these wildfires on the front lines."
  • Montana Governor Steve Bullock: "Lisa and I send our deepest condolences to the friends, family, and colleagues of Brent Witham. Mr. Witham lost his life protecting the people of Montana and we will remember him for his courage and sacrifice. Every loss of life is heartbreaking and tragic and we must keep all the men and women risking their lives fighting wildfires in our thoughts and pray they stay out of harm's way."
  • California Governor Edmund Brown Jr: flags in California will be flown at half staff in Brent Witham's honor... "Anne and I extend our condolences to Firefighter Brent Witham’s family, friends and colleagues in this difficult time. It’s the work of brave firefighters like Brent that keeps our communities safe and we are deeply grateful for his service."
  • Reno Fire Department twitter feed with photos from Brent Witham's return to California "Proud to join numerous local agencies to honor #BrentWitham on his final trip home. Thank you Brent for your service."
  • I admired everything about him, sister says of fallen Mentone firefighter

    8/7/17 | Online Article (Press Enterprise)

    U.S. Forest Service firefighter Brent Michael Witham, his sister said, was once a “skinny kid with messed-up teeth” who made her his sidekick and talked her into joining him in dressing up as an Army soldier.

    “He transformed into this hard-working, take-charge, get-it-done type of guy” who was a strong and confident man, Jannelle Giordano said. “I admired everything about him, and I still do.”

    Witham, 29, was remembered Thursday, Aug. 10, as a focused man who was... (More at the link above...)

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