17 Sep 2008, 1:36pm
Latest Fire News
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Contract firefighter dies after construction accident

By Kimberly Ross, Record Searchlight, September 17, 2008 [here]

A 77-year-old Happy Camp man has died from injuries suffered while serving as a contract firefighter in Siskiyou County, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said Tuesday.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday commended Curtis Hillman Sr. for his service and announced that Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff in his honor, a spokesman from his office said.

Hillman, a member of the Karuk tribe, was operating a grader to improve road conditions and access for firefighters. They were working the Siskiyou and Blue 2 Complex of fires when Hillman was injured Aug. 25, public information officer Mike Ferris said.

He was working on forest roads 14 and 21, about half a mile from Highway 96 just south of Dillon Creek Campground, Ferris said. The area is halfway between Happy Camp and Orleans.

When his grader failed to start, Hillman and another worker tried to fix the problem. The grader then started, but its brake failed and it began to roll backward. Both men fell or jumped off the machine, and Hillman hit his head, Ferris said.

He was flown to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, where he died from his injuries Thursday, Ferris said.

His is the 13th death as a result of the June lightning strikes that ignited fires across the north state.

A celebration of Hillman’s life is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the River Park Pavilion in Happy Camp, Ferris said.

An obituary in the Eureka Times-Standard says Hillman is survived by his wife, Susan, of Happy Camp, brother Grant of Orleans, children Charlene Neaf and husband Danny of Weaverville; Curtis R. Hillman Jr. and girlfriend Serena of Arcata; Leeon C. Hillman and wife Erin of Happy Camp; Shelly Niewinski and husband Jeff of Weaverville; Skooter Hillman of Happy Camp, 14 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Mercy Medical Center Hospitality House in Redding.



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