Authorities have identified Trenton M. Johnson of Missoula as the firefighter who died on Wednesday while battling a wildfire.
The Missoula County Sheriff's Office reports that Johnson, 19 years old, died after a tree snag fell on him.
The incident happened at around 5 p.m. while Johnson was fighting the Florence Fire north of Seeley Lake.
Johnson was flown to a Missoula hospital, but died from his injuries.
Johnson was an employee of Grayback Forestry.
In a press release, Grayback Forestry said that Johnson was a sophomore at Montana State University, and a graduate of Hellgate High School in Missoula, where he ran cross-country and played lacrosse.
The Sheriff's Office is investigating the details of the incident.
Statement From Grayback Forestry on Firefighter Fatality
It’s with sadness that Grayback Forestry, Inc. confirms that on July 19th, Trenton Johnson, a Grayback employee, was killed while fighting forest fire on the Seeley Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest in Montana.
Trenton was 19-years-old and a resident of Missoula, Montana. This was Trenton’s first year as a firefighter and second tour of duty this season.
Trenton was part of a 20-person Type 2 Initial Attack crew based in Missoula. At approximately 10:30, the crew was dispatched to a small lightning fire.
The crew was split into two groups of 10 to attack two different fires. Upon arrival they tied in with an existing crew to review strategy on engaging the fire. LCES (lookouts, communication, escape routes and safety) procedures were followed.
As the crew was getting lined out, a top broke out of a burning tree towards the crew boss and 3 others. Trenton was struck by the snag. He was taken to the nearest heliport approximately half mile from the fire. He was airlifted to Saint Patrick Hospital at that time and was later declared deceased.
Trenton was a sophomore at Montana State University in Bozeman. He attended Hellgate High School in Missoula and ran cross country and played lacrosse.
Governor Steve Bullock released the following statement:
“Firefighters dedicate their lives each day to ensure the safety of our communities. Lisa and I send our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of firefighter Trenton Johnson. He will forever be remembered as a brave man who exemplifies the courage and selflessness of all our first responders.”
Lolo National Forest Supervisor Tim Garcia released the following statement to employees:
“Yesterday afternoon Trenton Johnson, 19, a young firefighter from Grayback Forestry, was killed while helping us fight the Florence Fire on the Seeley Lake Ranger District. This is a heart-wrenching loss of life and Trenton leaves behind many friends and family members who are feeling this profound loss right now. This loss is rippling across the Lolo National Forest this morning and is most keenly felt on the Seeley Lake Ranger District, where Trenton’s sister works as a Forest Service employee. More information on this young man and his background will be released by Grayback Forestry. Our thoughts and prayers this morning are with Trenton’s family and friends, crew members and the wildland firefighting community. Please keep the Seeley Lake RD staff in your thoughts.”
(1st Report, 7:20 a.m.) A Montana firefighter was killed by a falling tree in the Lolo National Forest.
The incident happened Wednesday.
Authorities said the firefighter was part of a 20-person attack crew fighting a forest fire in the Seeley Lake Ranger District.
The firefighter was identified as a 19-year-old man from Missoula, but his name has not yet been released.
Officials said more information will be released Thursday at a noon media briefing.
The lightning-sparked Lolo Peak fire is burning in the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness in very rugged terrain, and has burned more than 165 acres as of Thursday morning.
It's burning approximately one mile west of the summit of Lolo Peak.
Road and trail closures have now been set up around the fire for public safety. Mormon Peak Road is closed from U.S. Highway 12 to the area of the fire. South Fork Lolo Creek Road and Small Creek Road are also closed, as well as several trails in the area.