Fire Alert

Contract worker dies on SE Oregon wildfire

Had medical issue; third death on Oregon wildfires in 11 days

ROME, Ore. - A contractor with a crew performing fire line rehabilitation work died Saturday on a southeast Oregon wildfire, Bureau of Land Management officials said Sunday – the third man to die on the lines of an Oregon wildfire in the past 10 days.

Kevin Hall, 59, of Ontario, died Saturday after suffering an apparent medical emergency while working for Brian McKinney, a contractor o the Grassy Mountain Fire on BLM land about 20 miles east of Rome.

Hall "was found unresponsive in his vehicle," a news release stated. "BLM employees and another fire contractor administered CPR until (a) Life Flight (helicopter) arrived." Life Flight personnel administered more efforts to revive Hall, the agency said, but he was declared dead at the scene.

BLM officials said Hall was a "low-boy" driver and tender for the bulldozer, assigned to the Grassy Mountain Fire, a lightning-sparked blaze reported last Wednesday afternoon and declared contained on Friday evening having burned more than 15,000 acres.

Hall was in a pickup truck and "was providing support to the dozer" crew working on the fire line rehab work, said Carolyn Shad, associate manager of the BLM's Vale District.

"He drove the low-boy that hauled the dozer in," Shad said. "Typically, that guy will follow the dozer, in case they need oil or have any kind of mechanical problem."

"We had no idea" he was having a medical problem, she added. "The crew came by, thought something was wrong, went to the pickup, tapped the window -- and with no response, opened the door and began life-saving efforts."

The BLM said it is convening a serious accident review team "to evaluate all the details of this tragedy."

The death occurred on the same day a memorial service was held Saturday in Albany for Jesse Trader, a firefighter who died at a southern Oregon wildfire last week. Meanwhile, a service open to the public is planned next Tuesday in Redmond for tree-faller John Hammack, killed on a fire west of Sisters on Aug. 1.

Trader, a 19-year-old from Albany, was killed last Tuesday when the water truck he was driving overturned at the Big Windy fire complex.

The Oregonian reports ( ) the state Public Safety Memorial Fund Board is deciding whether to give a $25,000 benefit to his family. The fund provides immediate financial help to the families of law enforcement officers and firefighters who are killed or disabled in the line of duty.

Hammack's memorial is planned for Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the South Sister Room of the Deschutes County Fairgrounds, along with a potluck dinner. The family says the event is open to the public who wishes to honor Hammack, 58, of Madras, killed by a falling treetop on a small fire about seven miles west of Sisters.

On Friday, Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber ordered all flags at public institutions to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset next Tuesday, in honor of Hammack.

"John Hammack was an experienced logger performing critical work on a fire in Central Oregon," Kitzhaber said. "He was also a talented rodeo competitor and beloved father, grandfather, husband, and friend. His loss is felt by everyone who knew him and by those of us learning about his sacrifice on the front lines of fighting Oregon wildfires. I send my deep condolences to his family and friends, and I urge all Oregonians to join me in honoring John and his service to Oregon."

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the John Hammack Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo Bank. An online guestbook is available at

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