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David Elijah Steele

Firefighter

A large number of firefighters were assigned to the Iron Complex fire in California's Trinity Alps Wilderness. A forecast for worsening weather necessitated the removal of approximately 50 firefighters from the area. A Sikorsky S61-N helicopter was assigned to ferry the firefighters to a safer location. The helicopter completed 2 trips and had made a refueling stop. After it refueled, it returned for its third load of passengers. During departure, the helicopter experienced a loss of power to the main rotor during takeoff initial climb, and subsequently impacted trees and terrain. The aircraft came to rest on its left side. A post-crash fire consumed the aircraft. Nine firefighters, including two pilots died in the crash and a pilot and 3 firefighters were severely injured. For additional information about this crash, consult the National Transportation Safety Board web site at https://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20080820X01266&key=1. NTSB report identification: LAX08PA259.
photo of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
David Elijah Steele was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.

Department information

Grayback Forestry Inc.
1150 Ort Ln.
USNG: 10T DN 6636 0636
Merlin, Oregon 97532

Chief: President Mike Wheelock

Age: 19
Rank: Firefighter
Classification: Wildland Contract
Incident date: August 5, 2008 19:30
Date of death: August 5, 2008
Cause of death: Vehicle Collision - Includes Aircraft
Nature of death: Trauma
Activity type: Other
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: Other On-Duty
Fixed property use: Outdoor Property

Last updated: July 28, 2016