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Forestry Department offers condolences to families of those killed in helicopter crash
Reports high rating for crew company involved
Aug. 7, 2008                                                   
Contact: Rod Nichols, 503-945-7425
 
The Oregon Department of Forestry Thursday extended condolences to the families, friends and co-workers of those killed in Tuesday evening’s helicopter crash in northern California, and said the Oregon company whose firefighters were lost has an excellent track record.
 
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of those who died, and with the entire firefighting community,” said Oregon State Forester Marvin Brown. “Firefighting is a dangerous occupation, and the loss of so many young lives has left us all in grief.”
 
The seven firefighters who died were part of a crew fielded by Grayback Forestry, Inc., a wildfire contracting company based in Merlin, Oregon. The helicopter was owned by Grants Pass-based Carson Helicopters.
 
One of the region’s largest and most respected wildfire contractors, Grayback has 10 20-person hand crews under contract with the state and federal fire agencies of Oregon and Washington. The interagency contracting system ranks companies based on performance, safety and other factors. Under this system, Grayback ranks second out of 61 firms on the 2008 crew agreement.
 
 “Grayback's skill has been a big asset to fighting fires in Oregon,” said Tom Savage, ODF’s Astoria district forester and a veteran member of ODF’s firefighting teams. “When they arrive we have placed them at tougher fire scenes because they could handle it.”
 
Members of the public interested in providing support to the surviving families of Iron 44, as the accident has been officially designated, can donate to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation through the foundation's website, www.wffoundation.org. The foundation provides direct financial support to the family members of fallen wildland firefighters.
 
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