Ore. firefighter killed during wildfire operations has been identified
Frumencio Ruiz Carapia of Medford was working on the Gales Fire when a tree unexpectedly snapped and fell over, striking him
UPDATE: Aug. 24, 10 p.m. PT
EUGENE, Ore. — A firefighter from Medford died when he was hit by a falling tree while fighting the Middle Fork Complex of wildfires east of Eugene, deputies said.
It appears the tree unexpectedly snapped and fell over, killing Frumencio Ruiz Carapia, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office said. The tree didn’t topple because of an active tree-cutting operation, an investigation found.
Ruiz Carapia, 56, was working on the Gales fire within the cluster of wildfires when he was struck, sheriff’s officials said. He died at the scene.
The Middle Fork Complex is burning about 40 miles east of Eugene and 9 miles north of Oakridge in parts of the Willamette National Forest. It has scorched over 16,000 acres and is 10% contained as of Tuesday. Parts of Lane County remain under evacuation notices, though no buildings have been burned.
EUGENE, Ore. — A firefighter battling the Gales Fire north of Oakridge died Monday afternoon.
It is suspected to have been caused by a tree falling on firefighter, according to Bryan Cutchen, Oakridge city administrator and acting fire chief. The victim was a young man, he added.
The death occurred on the eastern edge of the Gales Fire, according to Larry Nickey, deputy incident commander liaison for Pacific Northwest Team 13.
“We don’t have any information we can release right now because of the investigation, we do have a sheriff’s deputy on route to assist with the investigation,” Nickey said.
Nickey said officials were trying to get the division supervisor into cell service range to discuss the incident Monday afternoon.
It’s the first reported death from the Middle Fork Complex wildfires, which are thought to have started by lightning in Willamette National Forest the week of July 26.
The Gales and Ninemile fires, both north of Oakridge, were reported at 13,597 acres total on Saturday. They are the largest fires in the complex.
This story will be updated.