Firefighter Killed: Michael Hallenbeck Dies Fighting California Wildfire

Firefighter Michael Hallenbeck was killed battling a blaze near Lake Tahoe. Hallenbeck, 21, was killed after being struck by a falling tree. The Shingle Springs man was the second firefighter killed since the California wildfire began.

Michael Hallenbeck was killed Saturday after a fire broke out south of the Echo Summit mountain pass. More than 10,000 firefighters have reportedly been sent to fight the 20 wildfires roaring through the drought-ridden lands of California.

“Our hearts go out to the family, friends and fellow crewmembers of this brave firefighter,” U.S. Forest Service official Randy Moore said in an agency release. “The loss of any member of our Forest Service family is a tragedy. The grief we are feeling at the sudden loss of two of our firefighters; Dave Ruhl last week on the Modoc National Forest and now Mike Hallenbeck on the Basin, reminds us of the sacrifices these men and women make every day.”

In late July, another firefighter was killed while scouting a wildfire in the Modoc National Forest. David Ruhl was a United States Forest Service firefighter from Rapid City, South Dakota. Ruhl has been deployed on the special assignment from his regular duties for the Big Valley Ranger District.

The largest fires blazing in California maneuvered their way through Colusa, Lake, and Yolo counties. Hundreds of residents were evacuated from the region. The massive wildfire, which swept through an area about 100 miles north of San Francisco, reportedly destroyed 53 outbuildings, eight structures, and 43 homes while traveling 109 square miles. The fire began on July 29 and was still only 85 percent contained on Sunday, according to a statement from the Forestry and Fire Protection agency.

While battling the wildfire on Sunday, some firefighters were reportedly rushed to battle an emerging wildfire that broke out in the Lower Lake area. The blaze quickly encompassed 3,000 acres in just a few hours, according CalFire Captain Joe Fletcher. Residents of the rural region of Jerusalem Valley rushed form their home on July 31 when the Rocky Fire loomed nearby. They were only permitted to return to their homes lat Thursday when the threat has subsided. Captain Fletcher also stated that both of the wildfires will likely soon merge. A blaze which scorched nearly 10 square miles of the Sequoia National Forest is now almost contained.

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