KTVQ: Firefighter killed at Lolo Peak fire identified

Authorities released the name of the firefighter who was killed by a falling tree while fighting the Lolo Peak fire on Wednesday.

Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott said that 29-year-old Brent M. Witham of Mentone, California, died in the accident.

Medical crews were called around 3 p.m. Wednesday after a firefighter was struck by a tree while working with a crew in the McClain Creek area south of Lolo.

Efforts were made to get Witham down to a landing zone where he could be evacuated by helicopter.

The Type I Incident Management Team battling the 6,500-acre lightning sparked blaze that’s burning 10 miles southwest of Lolo released a statement following the death.

“A fire fighter was fatally injured in a felling accident Wednesday afternoon while working on the fire. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of our fallen comrade.”

Sheriff McDermott also issued a statement following the death.

“Please keep wild land firefighters on the Lolo Peak fire and firefighters across the nation in your thoughts and prayers.”

This marks the second time this summer that a firefighter has been killed while working on a Western Montana wildfire.

Trenton Johnson of Missoula died on July 19 after he was hit by a falling tree while working on a fire near Seeley Lake.

U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) released a statement on Thursday about the firefighter’s death.

“My thoughts and prayers go to their families and to all the brave men and women who are protecting our lives and property while facing these wildfires on the front lines,” Daines stated. 

Governor Steve Bullock also issued a statement Thursday.

“Lisa and I send our deepest condolences to the friends, family, and colleagues of Brent Witham,” said Governor Bullock. “Mr. Witham lost his life protecting the people of Montana and we will remember him for his courage and sacrifice. Every loss of life is heartbreaking and tragic and we must keep all the men and women risking their lives fighting wildfires in our thoughts and pray they stay out of harm’s way.”