Teenage Firefighter Killed Fighting Wildfire in Montana

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Trenton M. Johnson

A 19-year-old firefighter was killed while fighting the Florence Fire near Seeley Lake, Montana at 5pm on Wednesday, according to authorities.  His name was Trenton M. Johnson, according to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.

It’s being reported that Trenton was struck the a broken piece of a burning tree.  He did not survive the injuries he received.

“…a top broke out of a burning tree towards the crew boss and 3 others. Trenton was struck by the snag.” – Grayback Forestry

Tristan was a sophomore at Montana State University in Bozeman.

Map showing location of accident near Seely Lake, MT.

This was Tristan’s first year as a firefighter.

Grayback Forestry Statement:

It’s with sadness that Grayback Forestry, Inc. confirms that on July 19th, Trenton Johnson, a Grayback employee, was killed while fighting forest fire on the Seeley Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest in Montana.

Trenton was 19-years-old and a resident of Missoula, Montana. This was Trenton’s first year as a firefighter and second tour of duty this season.

Trenton was part of a 20-person Type 2 Initial Attack crew based in Missoula. At approximately 10:30, the crew was dispatched to a small lightning fire.

The crew was split into two groups of 10 to attack two different fires. Upon arrival they tied in with an existing crew to review strategy on engaging the fire. LCES (lookouts, communication, escape routes and safety) procedures were followed.

As the crew was getting lined out, a top broke out of a burning tree towards the crew boss and 3 others. Trenton was struck by the snag. He was taken to the nearest heliport approximately half mile from the fire. He was airlifted to Saint Patrick Hospital at that time and was later declared deceased.

Trenton was a sophomore at Montana State University in Bozeman. He attended Hellgate High School in Missoula and ran cross country and played lacrosse.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock Statement:

“Firefighters dedicate their lives each day to ensure the safety of our communities. Lisa and I send our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of firefighter Trenton Johnson. He will forever be remembered as a brave man who exemplifies the courage and selflessness of all our first responders.”

Lolo National Forest Supervisor Tim Garcia:

“Yesterday afternoon Trenton Johnson, 19, a young firefighter from Grayback Forestry, was killed while helping us fight the Florence Fire on the Seeley Lake Ranger District. This is a heart-wrenching loss of life and Trenton leaves behind many friends and family members who are feeling this profound loss right now. This loss is rippling across the Lolo National Forest this morning and is most keenly felt on the Seeley Lake Ranger District, where Trenton’s sister works as a Forest Service employee. More information on this young man and his background will be released by Grayback Forestry. Our thoughts and prayers this morning are with Trenton’s family and friends, crew members and the wildland firefighting community. Please keep the Seeley Lake RD staff in your thoughts.”

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