An off-duty firefighter is reported to have died Tuesday night while staged near the Launch Fire at Fourmile Lake.
The death is being investigated, but it currently thought to be accidental.
According to Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah, Matthew David Goodnature, 21, was taking a walk away from his fire camp at approximately 6:30 p.m.when the accident happened.
According to Skrah, he appears to have tripped on a sizable rock and fallen backwards. Skrah said scruff marks and others traces indicate Goodnature fell on a log that struck on the small of his back. It appears he died from a broken back.
There is no signs of foul play, but Skrah said his detectives have been interviewing all of Goodnature’s fire crew throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning as a matter of standard procedure.
Goodnature is a resident of Phoenix, Ore. The Phoenix Police Department have notified Goodnature’s next of kin.
“It’s just one of those horribly tragic [events] that occurs when a firefighter is out there for the right reasons,” Skrah said.
The Launch Fire started Monday morning in the northeast portion of the lake. Kevin Abel, spokesperson for the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP), said the fire is human caused.
He said the specifics are still being investigated.
As of Wednesday morning, the fire was estimated to have burned just under 100 acres. Able said 100 firefighters would be working on creating a fire line with more crews on the way.
A Type 2 (state) incident command crew should take over operations by Thursday morning, Abel noted. He said that team type was requested due to the complex nature of the Launch Fire.
Several areas of the Sky Lakes Wilderness are closed to the public while fire containment efforts are underway.
Forest Road 3661is partially closed, as well as Twin Ponds Trail, Badger Lake Trial and Lost Lake Trail. Abel said the Great Meadows Snow Park is set to be closed Wednesday as the area is going to be used for a helicopter refueling site.