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Firefighter dies battling B.C. wildfire; 2nd fatality this summer

Premier David Eby said the firefighter was helping with the response efforts to the Donnie Creek fire

B.C. Wildfire Service says a contract firefighter has been killed while working in the Prince George Fire Centre.

The crew member died while working on the Donnie Creek wildfire near Fort St. John Friday (July 28).

“The individual was injured while responding to a wildfire, so our primary concern as the B.C. Wildfire Service is the privacy of the individual’s family,” said Gavin Richmond, Prince George fire information officer.

BC RCMP say that a 25-year wildland firefighter was working in a remote area, about 150 kilometres north of Fort St. John, when the UTV he was riding on, rolled over a steep drop on a gravel road.

Police say the man was trasported by helicopter to the Fort St. John Airport, but died while en route. RCMP, B.C. Coroners Service, WorkSafeBC and the B.C. Wildfire Service are all investigating.

He was a wildland firefighter from Ontario, contracted by a private B.C. company.

In a statement Saturday, Premier David Eby said the firefighter was helping with the response efforts to the Donnie Creek wildfire near Fort St. John.

“I am devastated to learn that we have lost another wildfire fighter. My heart goes out to the family, friends and colleagues of this front-line hero. On behalf of all British Columbians, we grieve this terrible news with you,” he said.

“This tragic news, coming so soon after the death of Devyn Gale, has shaken people throughout B.C. and is devastating for so many of those in the woods bravely fighting wildfires right now. Every worker expects and deserves to return home safely to family and friends.”

Eby noted this has been a “profoundly awful” wildfire season, commending the firefighter and all the other firefighter for their daily heroism.

The Donnie Creek wildfire was first discovered May 12, and as of July 25 it was an estimated 583,153 hectares. It is the largest recorded wildfire in B.C.’s history.

In total, more than 1.5 million hectares have burned in B.C. this wildfire season.

Forests Minister Bruce Ralston said in a statement that he is heartbroken that another firefighter was lost protecting communities and the province during this devastating wildfire season.

“My deepest sympathies are with their family and friends, as well as their colleagues and the broader wildfire community - many of whom I know are still coping with the tragic loss of a colleague earlier this month.

READ MORE: Wildfire crews face extreme conditions as they mourn Revelstoke firefighter

B.C. Wildfire Service operations director Cliff Chapman has said crews are facing extreme and challenging conditions this year.

“You spend countless hours and days in very difficult, extreme conditions, trying to protect the people and the infrastructure of your province,” he said when speaking in the days after Gale’s death.

This is the second B.C. wildfire firefighter to be killed in the line of duty this year, and the fourth in Canada.

Gale, 19, was killed July 13 while working near Revelstoke. She was a third-year firefighter with B.C. Wildfire Service.

READ MORE: ‘Some smiles, you just can’t replace’: Memorial in Revelstoke for firefighter Devyn Gale

Last Saturday, the wildfire service and the province held a public memorial for Gale in Revelstoke.

In the Northwest Territories, Adam Yeadon, 25, died while fighting a wildfire near Fort Liard on July 15.

The on July 19, a helicopter crashed in northwestern Alberta, killing the pilot and lone occupant, Ryan Gould, 41.

READ MORE: Family remembers firefighter killed in N.W.T. as brave and passionate about his job

READ MORE: Fundraiser started for helicopter pilot killed in Alberta wildfire crash


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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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