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Longtime firefighter suffers medical emergency and dies fighting Moose Fire

SALMON – A wildland firefighter died this week after suffering a medical emergency while battling the Moose Fire north of Salmon.

Gerardo Rincon, 48, was an Oregon crew chief working for North Reforestation Inc., according to a message from the US Forest Service. He died early Tuesday morning.

“Gerardo has served as a forest firefighter since 1994,” Salmon-Challis National Forest Supervisor Charles A. Mark said in a Facebook post. “During his 28-year career, he was a Type 2 firefighter, engine captain and crew chief. He was highly recognized for his performance by his employers and crew members enjoyed working for him during many fire missions.

Rincon’s death marks the third firefighter fatality at the Moose Fire since it broke out on July 17. Helicopter pilots Thomas Hayes and Jared Bird were killed in late July when their plane crashed into the Salmon River.

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The Moose Fire is one of the largest active wildfires in the United States. It currently spans 130,110 acres and is 51% contained. Firefighters think it’s man-made. According to a press release from the Salmon-Challis National Forest, 588 firefighters are battling the blaze.

No further details were given about the circumstances of Rincon’s death.

“Tragedies of this nature are a reminder of the honorable work and sacrifices made by women and men like Gerardo. They are committed daily to supporting and protecting communities across the country,” Mark said in the Facebook post.

On Saturday there was a procession for Rincon. His body was taken from the Jones and Casey Funeral Home through downtown Salmon to Lemhi County Airport. Hundreds of firefighters lined the streets to bid him farewell before he was airlifted to Oregon.

A visitation is scheduled for Wednesday, September 28 at the Farnstrom Mortuary in Independence, Oregon, from 5 to 8 p.m. A funeral mass will be held September 29 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, followed by interment at Hilltop Cemetery.