By Cary Rosenbaum
ENTIAT – On Tuesday morning, firefighters took a moment of silence to remember a timber faller who passed away Monday evening on the job.
Chris Seelye of Darby, Mont., was taking care of some roadside brush on the Klone Fire – part of the Wenatchee complex – when he suddenly became ill and died shortly thereafter.
“Our condolences go out to the family of Chris Seelye,” said a statement released by the U.S. Forest Service.
Fire officials said the death is not uncommon.
“We call something like this is an incident with an incident,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Shepard said. “It can be anything that happens. It's a usual occurrence that happens within the incident we have.”
According to Shepard, the man was working in an area where fallers were reducing some of the fuels along roads to provide accessibility to incoming fire crews.
“That’s one of the things a timber faller does,” she said. “Sometimes they remove snags, trees that prevent danger for firefighters; it’s an important job to make safe access or a safe area for firefighters to work.”
“They were taking care of some of the brush that’s alongside of the road, part of the fire landscape,” Shepard said. “(Medical-related deaths on the fire line have) happened in recent years… He was just feeling ill, it wasn’t anything to do with machinery or conditions.”