Thursday, May 29, 2008

BLM firefighters honored as heroes

This involves the crash of single engine air tanker 458 on July 17, 2007.

Associated Press - May 28, 2008 7:44 PM ET

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Five federal firefighters from Nevada and four from Montana have been recognized as heroes for their courageous rescue of a pilot whose air tanker crashed in the path of a quickly advancing wildfire south of Winnemucca last summer.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne recently presented them with the department's prestigious valor award in recognition of the bravery and decisive action taken by the members of the Bureau of Land Management fire crew members based in Winnemucca and Lewiston, Mont.

The July 17 rescue occurred after a large lightning storm ignited the 8,000-acre Barrel Springs Fire.

The pilot of a single engine air tanker crashed while trying to make a strategic retardant drop so the crews cleared a buffer and scrambled to slow the fire's advance toward the plane. They grabbed the disoriented pilot, removed him from the crash site and helped him remove his fuel-soaked clothes.

As they drove away, the flames consumed the plane.

Kempthorne presented the awards at a ceremony in Washington on May 13 to Mike Hendrickson, Lester McDonald, Mike Sperry, Scott Brandt, Mike McMaster and Andrew Snyder of Nevada, and Andrew Rishavy, Andrea Robinson, Scott Meneely and Steven Spellberg of Montana.

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