Firefighter killed near Sisters had a love for rodeos - KPTV - FOX 12

Firefighter killed near Sisters had a love for rodeos

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SISTERS, OR (KPTV) -

Search and rescue crews planned to recover the body of a central Oregon man who died while battling a fire near the town of Sisters.

Gov. John Kitzhaber identified the victim as John Hammack. Investigators said a falling snag killed him just after 9 a.m. Thursday.

A second firefighter, Norman Crawford, suffered injuries but was able to walk to safety.

"Inherently, what they do is extremely dangerous, and we need to recognize that," said Lt. Scott Shelton from Deschutes County Search and Rescue. "It's a family, and they may be firefighters and we may be law enforcement, (but) it's still a loss to our families."

Hammack and Crawford were part of a contract crew hired by a company out of Bonney Lake, WA, near Tacoma, to clear trees so firefighters could go in and set up containment lines.

Friends said Hammack, who lived in Madras, had decades of experience and a love for rodeos.

"He was big into rodeo for a long time. He was the guy who pulled on the gate for the bulls. The guy was tough," said friend Rick Geraths.

The fire was one of several caused by Wednesday's lightning storm in central Oregon. About 40 small fires were set off by the lightning along the Cascade Crest and central Oregon.

"My thoughts and deepest condolences go out to the family of John Hammack, who died on Thursday while bravely responding to a wildfire outside of Sisters," Kitzhaber said in a statement. "All across Oregon, thousands of men and women are doing difficult and dangerous work to protect their fellow citizens. This is a tough loss for Oregon, and with our state experiencing the most severe wildfire conditions in years, all first responders deserve our gratitude, our appreciation, and our support."

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