Hundreds Gather In Missoula To Remember Fallen Firefighter
Hundreds of firefighters from dozens of departments, local, county, state and federal, along with family and friends, gathered Saturday in Missoula to honor Justin Beebe, who was killed a week ago Saturday while fighting a fire in Nevada.
The memorial service was held inside Ogren Park at Allegiance Field. Before the service began, firefighters lines the street on both sides to honor their fallen brother.
Lolo National Forest spokesman Boyd Hartwig said the close-knit firefighting community is like a brotherhood, because they are all aware of the inherent dangers they face while fighting a wildfire.
"There's a brotherhood within the firefighting community that extends to all employees," he said. ,"These folks go out on the fire line together and they watch out for each other. I think you're seeing that today, that common bond that they all have."
Hartwig emphasized the family spirit that binds all firefighters together.
"It is a large family' he continued. "We've got police representing various agencies, we've got the DNRC here, city fire departments, rural fire departments and not just from Missoula, but across the state and the entire country are here. All of these agencies work together on fires all around the country, and I think the involvement of all these folks here today reflects that."
At the service, friends and coworkers spoke emotionally about their friend and fellow firefighter Justin Beebe, and a folded flag was presented to Beebe's parents, who had come to Missoula from their home in Vermont to be a part of the ceremony for their son.
Beebe, a member of the elite Lolo Hot Shots team, was killed last Saturday when the top of a tree fell on him while fighting the Strawberry Fire in Nevada. According to the U.S. Forest Service, he was killed instantly.
He is the only wildland firefighter to lose his life so far this summer.
A memorial fund has been set up in Beebe’s name to support dyslexic children, fallen firefighters and for a wildfire foundation.