MISSOULA, Mont. — Hotshot firefighting crews lined a lane in Missoula on Saturday to honor a U.S. Forest Service firefighter who was killed battling a wildfire in Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada.
They were there to pay their respects to Justin Beebe, who died Aug. 13 when he was struck by a tree while fighting a 7-square-mile blaze ignited by lightning Aug. 8 about 200 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
Beebe was a member of the Lolo Hotshots based in Missoula, one of a number of elite Forest Service crews called to fight the most dangerous wildfires in the West.
Those attending the memorial service included his parents, Sheldon and Betsy Beebe of Vermont, his sister, Jessica and his fiancee, Jennifer Zaso, both trauma nurses in Boulder, Colorado, the Missoulian reported.
There were about 15 fire crews present, from Montana, Idaho, Arizona and the Blackfeet Nation.
Shawna Legarza, national director of fire and aviation management for the Forest Service and a former Hotshot, said it takes a special person to be a Hotshot.
Cody Forgea, senior firefighter for the Lolo Hotshots, called Beebe a “little brother.”
Forgea said the crew had a light breakfast the day Beebe died before climbing 1,100 vertical feet in 50 minutes to continue fighting the fire, digging fire lines and sawing trees.
Beebe died during his turn sawing, with “sweat on his brow, ash on his boots and a saw in his hand,” Forgea said.
Beebe will be buried in his home state of Vermont.