(This article was first published on WildfireToday.com, October 8, 2017.)
A man was killed Saturday October 7 during Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) operations on the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah. The 58-year old crew member on the ground from Alpine, Utah was giving directions to a helicopter dropping straw mulch when he was struck on the head. The pilot saw the injured man and contacted others who called 911.
Brian Head Marshall Jeff Morgan was flown to the remote site off State Route 143 about 1:45 p.m. and determined that the man had died.
A statement from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office read:
It was determined he likely died as a result of blunt force trauma from falling debris during the airdrop.
It was not clear from the statement if the man was hit by straw mulch or debris from a nearby tree as the straw fell.
The identity of the person killed has not been released.
Since an aircraft was involved in the fatality the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the accident.
The Brian Head Fire burned over 63,000 acres in late June. On August 25 BAER teams began dropping 3,200 tons of wheat straw from helicopter nets to cover the soil surface. The additional ground cover increases the germination of seeds dropped earlier and helps absorb raindrop impact lessening water runoff potential.
Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and coworkers.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Charlie.
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