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Park service firefighter, 18, dies at blaze near Redding

July 27, 2008|Jean-Paul Renaud | Times Staff Writer

An 18-year-old firefighter with the National Park Service was killed while clearing trees at the Eagle fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Northern California, U.S. Forest Service officials said Saturday.

Andrew Palmer, who was based out of Olympic National Park in Port Angeles, Wash., died Friday en route to a hospital in Redding, officials said. He was the first full-time firefighter to die this year battling California's wildfires, which have drawn about 12,000 firefighters and consumed more than 700,000 acres.

A volunteer firefighter died of an apparent heart attack on a Northern California blaze July 3.

No details were released on the circumstances of Palmer's death. He had been working on the southwest flank of the Eagle fire, a Forest Service statement said. An accident investigation board has been assembled by the Forest Service and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"The loss of any member of the firefighting family has a dramatic effect on all of those who are fighting fires," said Abigail Kimbell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service. "To the Palmer family, my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry for your loss."

The Eagle fire, which has burned more than 72,000 acres, is part of a larger cluster of wildfires called the Iron Complex fire in Shasta County that has been burning since June 21. It is 63% contained.

Palmer, of Port Townsend, Wash., had worked for the park service for about a year, said Kimbell.

As is tradition, firefighters will wear black bands around their badges, and Kimbell has ordered Forest Service offices to fly their flags at half staff.

A fund will be established by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in Palmer's name. The foundation's phone number is (877) 336-2950.

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jp.renaud@latimes.com

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