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James Alan Burnett

District Forester

Four times during the summer of 2000, District Forester Burnett received leave from his full-time job in Oklahoma to work as a temporary firefighter for the Federal government. He had served two assignments in Florida and one assignment in Louisiana. On August 2, 2000, he accepted another assignment as the engine boss of an Oklahoma contract engine and was eventually assigned to the "Kate’s Basin" fire in Wyoming. District Forester Burnett’s engine was assigned to assist local firefighters with a burnout operation. As District Forester Burnett was sizing up the fire line, a sudden wind caused the fire to "blow up." District Forester Burnett attempted to start the pump on his engine to protect his position but was unable to start the pump. District Forester Burnett attempted to reach a safety zone and attempted to deploy his fire shelter, but was unsuccessful. District Forester Burnett was wearing brush gear at the time of his injury. District Forester Burnett died of burns. He was the first Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Forestry Services, employee to lose his life fighting a fire.
photo of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
James Alan Burnett 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

Department of Agriculture/Forestry Services
P.O. Box 528804
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73152

Chief: Roger Davis

Age: 51
Rank: District Forester
Classification: Career
Incident date: August 11, 2000 13:00
Date of death: August 11, 2000
Cause of death: Exposure
Nature of death: Burns
Activity type: Water Supply
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Outdoor Property

Last updated: June 13, 2012

Watch America’s Tribute to Fallen Firefighters

Honoring line-of-duty deaths in 2019