GRANTS PASS, Ore. — An Oregon firefighter died in a fall while on a break from battling a wildfire in the southern Cascade Range, officials said.
Matthew David Goodnature, 21, of Phoenix, Ore., was dead when another firefighter found him Tuesday evening near Four Mile Lake in Fremont-Winema National Forest, Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah said.
Goodnature had walked away from fire camp while on the break and apparently lost his balance climbing over a rock before falling backward over a downed log and breaking his back, Skrah said.
The death was the first of a wildland firefighter in Oregon this season and the seventh nationwide, National Interagency Fire Center spokesman Mike Ferris said.
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One of the others was killed in a plane crash, and five died in medical emergencies such as heart attacks.
The center website lists three firefighters who died in Oregon last year, one from a falling tree, another in a truck wreck and a third from a medical emergency.
Goodnature was working the Launch Fire burning in lodgepole pines on the edge of Sky Lakes Wilderness. The blaze has blackened about 100 acres and is considered human-caused, fire spokesman Kevin Abel said.
A total of 12 large fires were burning in Oregon across 755 square miles (483,200 acres) of timber and range mostly east of the Cascades.