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Memorial fund set up for fallen local firefighter

A memorial fund has been established for Matthew Goodnature, the 21-year-old Phoenix firefighter who died July 29 while working on the Launch fire near Four Mile Lake.

Ashland-based contractor Pacific Oasis Inc., for whom Goodnature worked as a wildland firefighter, established the fund for the Goodnature family, said Becky Dodds, who owns the company along with her husband, Steve Dodds.

Becky Dodds said the memorial fund was set up at Wells Fargo bank in Ashland, but donations can be made through any Wells Fargo branch across the nation.

Just walk in or call and ask for the "Matthew Goodnature Memorial Fund," she said.

 "We all took it pretty hard, he was one of our firefighters ... we really wanted to be there for his family " she said.

The family plans to donate all of the proceeds from the memorial fund to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, an Idaho-based nonprofit that provides assistance to the families of fallen firefighters and injured firefighters, she said.

Pacific Oasis employs about 130 firefighters each fire season, Becky Dodds said. Goodnature was in the midst of his second season with the company.

In a statement from Pacific Oasis, Goodnature's dad, Dave Goodnature, said, "(Matthew) got a high degree of satisfaction from battling forest fires. He loved the hard work, the outdoors, providing a service, and doing something important with his life. Most of all, he loved his fellow firefighters. His crew was, in so many ways, closer to him than his own family. We knew he was willing to sacrifice his life for them if need be or to protect the homes and lives of strangers. In the end, that's just what he did. He died while helping others."

Preliminary autopsy results show Matthew Goodnature fractured his vertebrae near where the neck meets the skull during an accidental fall while on break from fighting the human-caused, 42-acre Launch fire burning in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

One of Matthew Goodnature's crew members found him lying dead over a downed log about 50 yards from a forest road near fire camp at about 6:30 p.m., investigators said. He had been missing for about four hours.

 Reach Mail Tribune reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.