WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) - Plaques honoring 20 firefighters who
died in the line of duty since 1929 are being quietly installed
this summer in the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests.
All the bronze plaques should be in place by this fall, said
Kriste Solbrack, safety and health manager for the Okanogan and
Wenatchee National Forests.
The Forest Service already has placed several of the plaques,
with help from families of the firefighters, Okanogan and Wenatchee
National Forests spokeswoman Debbie Kelly said.
Although many families have requested the project be low-key, a
public ceremony is planned to commemorate the death of Ron Neely, a
28-year-old smokejumper who was trapped by fire in the Fish
Lake-Gibson Creek Fire outside of Okanogan on July 27, 1977.
The Forest Service and state Department of Fish and Wildlife
jointly built a kiosk and memorial sign at Fish Lake Campground in
the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area near where Neely died.
The ceremony is planned for July 26 at the site.
The decision to honor the 20 firefighters came after four
firefighters died in the Thirtymile Fire on July 10, 2001. A
memorial to the Thirtymile firefighters was dedicated last July.
Including those who died at Thirtymile, the two North Cascades
national forests have suffered 24 deaths in 14 separate cases.
Nine died by being trapped by fires, 10 in plane or helicopter
crashes, three from falling trees and two from heart attacks.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)