ARIZONA LINE OF DUTY DEATH Wildland Firefighter Deon Classay
On June 23, 2011, Firefighter Deon Jason Classay of the Fort Apache Interagency Hotshot Crew (Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fort Apache Agency) died in the line of duty. The Fort Apache Hotshot Crew is one of only seven all-Native American interagency hotshot crews in the country.
The U.S. Fire Administration is reporting that the lightning caused Diamond Fire was reported to Show Low Dispatch on 06/23/2011 at approximately 1200hrs local time. The location of the fire was confirmed by a helicopter to be north of the Black River on Fort Apache, approximately 2.5 miles northeast of Ten of Diamonds Ranch.
The Fort Apache Helitack and Fort Apache Hotshots were dispatched as Initial Attack resources and were flown to a helispot located on a ridge top on Paddy Butte near the fire start. Terrain in the area is steep and rocky with a dense woodlands fuel type. Following completion of a handline around the approximately 35 acre fire all resources hiked back up to the helispot (spike camp). As resources returned to helispot, the Incident Commander determined that one firefighter was not accounted for and initiated a search to locate the missing firefighter.
The firefighter was in possession of a handheld radio and attempts to contact him throughout the evening were not successful. After several sweeps of the area, law enforcement from local, county and state agencies were requested to assist with the search efforts.
Classay, born May 1, 1968, of the White Mountain Apache Tribe served on the Fort Apache Hotshot Crew for 22 years. He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Mitzie Classay, two children, Thane and Mandy, and two granddaughters, Kylee and Kamare. Please join with us in sending our condolences to the family and peers of Firefighter Deon Jason Classay.
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