The Lolo Peak Fire crosses into the Fall Creek drainage (copy)

The Lolo Peak Fire as seen from the air last week.


A firefighter was killed while working the Lolo Peak fire Wednesday afternoon — the second firefighter death in Montana this fire season.

Missoula County Sheriff T.J. McDermott said an official investigation to determine the cause of death is still underway. 

Dispatchers at the Lolo Peak fire said the man was given CPR after apparently being struck by a falling snag. Rescuers worked to get him off the mountain and loaded onto a LifeFlight bound for Missoula. However, emergency workers could not save his life.

The man’s name has not been released pending notification of his family. McDermott said further details will be released once the investigation is complete.

“Please keep wildland firefighters on the Lolo Peak fire and firefighters across the nation in your thoughts and prayers,” Leigh Golden, the fire's public information officer, said in an emailed statement.

If confirmed, the incident marks the second time in two weeks that a firefighter in Montana has been killed by a falling tree limb, often referred to as a snag.

On July 19, Trenton Johnson, 19, was killed by a burning snag that fell on him as he was working the Florence fire near Seeley Lake.

Johnson was a standout lacrosse player for Hellgate High School in Missoula and was attending Montana State University. He was working for a private firefighting company based in Oregon.

His death took place in only the second fire that Johnson had worked with a 20-person crew with the private company Grayback Forestry, which was under contract to the U.S. Forest Service.

The last year to claim more than one wildland firefighter's life in Montana was 2001. That was also the last year in which a firefighter was killed by a snag.

Ravalli Republic reporter Eve Byron contributed to this story.

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