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Smokejumper dies battling wildfire in Northern California

Smokejumper dies battling wildfire in Northern California
Smoke is seen Sunday from the Hathaway fire, a few miles from the World's Biggest Dinosaurs site in Cabazon, Calif. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

A 28-year-old U.S. Forest Service smokejumper died battling a wildfire in Northern California, officials said Tuesday.

Luke Sheehy was struck by a falling portion of a tree while he was fighting the Saddle Back fire in the Modoc National Forest about 150 miles northeast of Redding, Calif., the Forest Service said.

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The incident was reported shortly before 5 p.m. Monday. Rescuers tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Sheehy, Forest Service officials said in a statement.

A resident of Susanville, Calif., Sheehy was taken by a helicopter to a hospital in Alturias, where he was pronounced dead.

"Our hearts go out to the family of this brave young smokejumper," Forest Service Chief Tim Tidwell said.

He said the agency was launching a review of the incident. The Saddle Back fire was one of several blazes sparked by lightning across Northern California on Sunday and Monday.

In Southern California, hundreds of firefighters on Tuesday were battling a blaze that had scorched at least 1,300 acres of heavy chaparral and timber on the northern end of the Morongo Indian Reservation.

That blaze, dubbed the Hathaway fire, broke out Sunday before noon and burned through dry fuels in steep, rugged terrain in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, fire officials said. The blaze was 30% contained Tuesday evening. 

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