Letters From the West

Firefighter on bulldozer dies of heart attack in North Idaho

A dozer operator died from an apparent heart attack Monday while cutting a line on the Pardee Fire in the Idaho Department of Lands Maggie Creek Forest Protective District near Kamiah.

Dennis Long of Clarkston, Wash. was a private logging contractor in his early 50s working in the afternoon on the fire that began Monday morning. Idaho Department of Lands staff notified Long’s wife and grown daughter in Clarkston Monday night.

Long’s boss performed CPR before emergency medical staff arrived on the scene where he was pronounced dead.

The Pardee Fire, caused by lightning, is located between Greer and Kamiah on the east side of the Clearwater River, eight miles northwest of Kamiah. The nearest homes are within two miles of the fire, but the state foresters do not expect the structures to be threatened.

The fire grew to 55 acres before laying down in the evening. Fire crews had placed lines around 40 percent of the fire.
The state organized a local incident command management team under Incident Commander Jeff Handel of the Nez Perce Tribe.

The fire is burning in grass and open pine stands in steep terrain that plateaus atop the mountains. Carrot Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service and an inmate crew from Orofino were on the fire Monday, along with the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office and Kamiah Ambulance.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West