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Montana News
Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Firefighter Killed On Duty In Lolo National Forest

Mike Wheelock, president of Merlin, Oregon-based Grayback Forestry in Missoula Thursday
Eric Whitney
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Mike Wheelock, president of Merlin, Oregon-based Grayback Forestry in Missoula Thursday

This story was updated at 3:30pm.

Trenton Johnson was on just his second assignment for Oregon-based Grayback Forestry when he was struck by a falling tree.

At a Missoula press conference today Grayback President Mike Wheelock said the tree fell on Johnson’s crew -

"As fast as a lightning bolt. They just heard a crack, and that was it. Three of them were able to get out of the way, and Trenton was not," Wheelock said.

Wheelock says the crew carried Johnson to the nearest helicopter landing spot and that he was alive when the helicopter arrived, but was later pronounced dead at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.

Johnson was a graduate of Hellgate High School, a National Honor Society member and played lacrosse on the school’s team that won state championships all four years Johnson was with them. Johnson was attending Montana State University.

Grayback, the US Forest Service and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are all investigating. Grayback’s Mike Wheelock says plans for a memorial are being put together now.

Trenton Johnson
Credit Courtesy Grayback Forestry
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Trenton Johson

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