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A 21-year-old U.S. Forest Service firefighter became the second first responder to die since California's scorching wildfire season got underway, officials said Sunday.
Michael Hallenbeck, of Shingle Springs, Calif., was struck by a tree Saturday afternoon during the initial assault on a wildfire that broke out south of the Echo Summit mountain pass, the agency said in a statement.
"Our hearts go out to the family, friends and fellow crewmembers of this brave firefighter," said Randy Moore, the Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Regional Forester said. "The loss of any member of our Forest Service family is a tragedy."
On July 30, Forest Service firefighter David Ruhl, of Rapid City, S.D., was killed by a wildfire in the Modoc National Forest while he scouted the area for ways to fight the blaze. Ruhl, , had been on temporary assignment since June in California, where he was an assistant fire management officer for the Big Valley Ranger District.
MAFFS Update: MAFFS 2 and 5 have received launch orders, today Sun., Aug. 9 and are departing McClellan Airfield to support suppression efforts on the Fork Complex fire in Califormia.