By Paradise Afshar and Aya Elamroussi, CNN
A firefighter died while battling a wildfire in southwestern Oregon after he was struck by a tree, officials said Thursday.
Collin Hagan, 27, died Wednesday while he was fighting the Big Swamp Fire near Oakridge, Oregon, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted on social media.
Hagan, from Toivola, Michigan, was critically injured when a tree hit him, and he died “despite lifesaving efforts by EMS personnel assigned to the fire,” the sheriff’s office added.
“It is a sad day in public safety,” Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said in the statement. “On behalf of the men and women of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, I extend my heartfelt sympathies to Firefighter Hagan’s family, friends, co-workers and all who knew this brave young man.”
Hagan was a wildland firefighter assigned to the Craig Interagency Hotshot Crew based in Craig, Colorado, according to the sheriff’s office. His body was flown from the Toketee Airstrip to the Roseburg Regional Airport by REACH Air Medical Services helicopter.
The creation of a serious accident investigation team is underway, according to a statement from the Willamette National Forest.
“We are devastated by the tragic loss of a cherished firefighter working on our forest to save our communities and beloved recreational areas,” said Duane Bishop, acting forest supervisor for the national forest. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and fellow crew members of this brave firefighter.”
The Big Swamp Fire has charred 119 acres with no containment since it was sparked August 1, according to the state’s wildfire tracking website. Lightening ignited the fire on the Willamette National Forest near Oakridge, which is about 150 miles south of Portland, according to the national wildfire tracking website Inciweb.
There are 54 wildfires currently active in Oregon that have scorched more than 8,000 acres as of early Friday, according to the state’s wildfire tracking website.
Wildfires have become more common in the western US in recent years due to worsening drought conditions fueled by climate change.
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