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Brakes, Weight Blamed in Fire Crew Death

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MEDFORD, Ore. – A new report by the Bureau of Land Management said equipment problems, steep terrain, and inexperience contributed to the death of a fire crew member working on the Big Windy Fire in August 2013.

19-year-old Jesse Trader was driving a water tender for a private contractor when the vehicle crashed off a steep, winding section of Bear Camp Road.

The fatal crash report by the BLM said the truck was a 1966 International Harvester, which only had brakes on its rear wheels. The truck was also more than 5,000 pounds overweight at the time of the crash. Trader had just received his commercial driver’s license to operate the vehicle six days before the accident.

BLM spokesman Jim Whittington said the agency is making changes in response to the fatal accident. All trucks being used in a wildland firefighting capacity, including vehicles belonging to private contractors, will be required to have brakes on all axles. Water tenders will also need to have compression engine brakes.

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  1. Cher says:

    And WHERE does it say, Mr. No cover up intended Whittington, that the vehicle PASSED inspection? The SAME truck that did NOT pass inspection but miraculously was put on the road the VERY next day? NO COVER UP? BS. You all put a very tired, sleep deprived young man behind the wheel of an overloaded, brake failure death trap and you all knew it. I don’t know how you all can sleep at night knowing the destruction you caused in the lives of his family, friends, and others who will not be able to come to terms with the death of someone that should not have been behind the wheel of a vehicle that did NOT pass inspection to begin with! Not a cover up my ass!

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