22 Jul 2009, 5:14pm
Latest Fire News
by admin

In wake of death Forest Service suspends rappelling statewide

By Dylan Darling, Redding Record Searchlight, July 22, 2009 [here]

WILLOW CREEK — The U.S. Forest Service has halted its training and use of rappelling from helicopters statewide in response to the death of a firefighter who fell from a helicopter Tuesday in the north state.

Thomas “T.J.” Marovich, Jr., 20, of Hayward, died Tuesday morning after falling about 200 feet during a routine rappelling exercise, said Robin Cole, spokeswoman for the Forest Service. Just after his death about 10:15 a.m., the Forest Service’s regional office suspended rappelling, or sliding down ropes, from helicopters.

Cole said she did not know how long the suspension will be in effect.

“They didn’t put a time on it,” she said.

Marovich, who worked for the Modoc National Forest, was among about 500 firefighters who’d been fighting the Backbone Fire near Willow Creek in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Started by lightning in July 1, the fire has burned about 6,300 acres and was 85 percent contained this morning, Cole said. The fire is expected to be fully contained by Friday. … [more]

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