Community Reacts to Big Windy Tragedy

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MERLIN, Ore. – Many firefighters are still learning the details around Jesse Trader’s death. But officials say within 24-hours every firefighter nationwide will be informed.

Meanwhile, community members are still reeling from what they say is like losing a brother.

“We’re family. We’re not blood but we’re family,” said Leighanna Peacock, owner of Baldini’s Family Restaurant. “That’s just how we are here… very tight knit.”

Trader was part of a contract team called County Fire. Officials say he was driving his water tanker back from a night shift, down a steep portion of Bear Camp Road.

When it flipped, firefighters, medical crews, and a medical helicopter rushed to the scene.

“The response from the firefighters right there was immediate, it was professional, it was about the best we could have asked from anybody,” said Big Windy Public Information Officer Jim Whittington.

But despite their efforts, Trader was pronounced dead less than an hour after the accident, a burden firefighters say you just can’t prepare for.

“This has been a tough summer, and this really hurts,” said Whittington.

Residents of Merlin, who have already been pouring in support and donations from all directions, say they’ll do anything to be there for their second family on the front lines.

“We’ll do whatever we can to show support for their family – if they have a children or a spouse – their parents. For anybody that’s involved,” said Peacock.