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Local Crew Reacts to Firefighter’s Death

COBURG, Ore. — A 19-year-old is man the second firefighter to die in Oregon in less than a week.

Jessie Trader was killed when the water tanker he was driving rolled into a ditch along Bear Camp Road.

Firefighter John Hammack died last Thursday when he was hit by a falling tree, fighting a fire in the Mt. Washington Wilderness Area.

Both of these deaths have hit the firefighting community hard.

Members of the Coburg Fire Department say they deal with death and despair often in their profession, but it is definitely hard when they know it’s one of their brothers who was killed doing something they also do.

Justin Johnson with Coburg Fire just got back from the Douglas Complex. After just driving on some of the similar roads, he can understand how rough the terrain can be. He says the water tankers can be very dangerous because you have a shifting load all the time with the water.

Johnson says deaths like this heighten safety awareness, but sometimes even those with the best training fall victim to tragic accidents.

“As a firefighter knowing another firefighter went down, it’s sad for us. It’s kind of disheartening, but it also reminds us to keep up on our training and to keep going,” said Capt. Justin Johnson, Coburg Fire and Rescue.

Johnson says his house will also lower its flag to half staff in honor of Jesse Trader.

The firefighters say this is also hard on the families of firefighters who are back home because they have to hear about these tragedies and know that their loved ones are still on the front lines fighting in some very serious conditions. And what makes it harder, there is no end in sight for a number of these fire.

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