Port Townsend man dies fighting California forest fire

Olympic National Park staff is mourning the tragic death of 18-year old Andrew “Andy” Palmer of Port Townsend. Palmer was hired this June as a wildland firefighter at Olympic National Park and was assigned to an engine crew stationed in Port Angeles.

“We mourn Andy’s death and offer our support and deepest condolences to his family,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin.

Palmer’s four-person engine crew was dispatched July 22 to the Eagle fire, part of the Iron Complex fire on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. July 25 was their first day on the fire line. Palmer was fatally injured when a falling tree struck him.

An accident investigation team has been assembled and will be co-led by National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service personnel. More information will be released as it becomes available.

The rest of Palmer’s crew has returned to Olympic National Park and a critical incident stress management team has arrived in the park to provide support and assistance to the park’s fire crew and staff.

Palmer was a 2008 graduate of Port Townsend High School. In honor and memory of his life, flags in all National Park Service areas throughout the six-state Pacific West Region will fly at half-staff until further notice.

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