Updated 2:55 p.m.: A water truck driver working on one of five major forest fires in southwestern Oregon has died in a crash.
Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson says the 19-year-old man was returning this morning after spending all night at the Big Windy complex of fires.
Gilbertson says the man was on his way to hand off the keys to a replacement driver.
He was the second crew member killed this wildfire season in Oregon, and the 29th nationally.
On Aug. 1, 58-year-old John Hammack was killed in Central Oregon when the tree he was cutting fell on him.
The Bear Camp Road, where the crash reportedly happened, is 50 miles of twisting, narrow roadway linking Galice and Agness. As the shortest route from the Rogue Valley to the coast, the route is heavily used by recreationists and as a shuttle route by those floating the whitewater on the Wild and Scenic stretch of the Rogue River during the summer.
The road has been closed to the public for the past week as firefighters use it to battle the 10,000-acre plus Big Windy fire. The road is being used as a fire line to stop the flames from spreading south.
About 37 miles of the road lies within national forest boundaries. Another 12 miles is on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Medford District.
— Staff and wire reports
11:05 a.m. One person died this morning after a water truck ran off Bear Camp Road at 7:30 this morning, the Grant Pass Daily Courier reported.
Caveman Towing sent to trucks to the scene to retrieve the truck, which was upside down near milepost 10, said Lonnie Leonard of the tow company.
Kristen Stephens of Stephens Family Chapel in Grants Pass said it was summoned to a fatality related to the Big Windy Complex.
Joe Hyatt, fire inspector with the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety, confirmed there had been a crash in the area of the Big Windy Complex of fires and that someone had died in that crash.
The Big Windy Complex consists of three fires along the lower Rogue's Wild Section, and the fires forced closure of the Wild Section from Grave Creek to Mule Creek indefinitely. Bear Camp Road is closed to the public while fire crews work in the area.Fire officials declined to comment, so few details were available this morning.
— Jeff Duewel, Daily Courier