Firefighter died of smoke inhalation and burns, autopsy said

An autopsy today in Redding concluded that a Washington firefighter who died while scouting the Panther wildfire near Happy Camp over the weekend was killed by smoke inhalation and burns.

Daniel Bruce Packer 49, fire chief of the East Pierce County Fire and Rescue Unit in Lake Tapps, Wash., had just joined the team managing the 55,085-acre Siskiyou complex fire. He was surveying the blaze and developing a plan to battle it when he was apparently overtaken by flames following an unexpected wind shift, Washington officials said.

A Forest Service team began investigating the accident on Monday. Team members will gather physical and photographic evidence, interview witnesses, and prepare a report. A preliminary version is expected Wednesday and the final version must be submitted within 60 days after the accident.

Duane Lyon, spokesman for the Klamath National Forest's fire center, said the preliminary report details, along with information about Packer's funeral arrangements would be released Wednesday.

Lyon said the Panther fire had burned 2,056 acres and was zero percent contained at of 6 a.m. today. The fire had grown by more than 1,400 acres since Monday morning's survey, and continued to burn actively through today.

— Anita Burke

Share This Story