WESTMINSTER—A Westminster man was killed Aug. 13 while working to put out a wildfire near Baker, Nevada.
According to the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, Justin Beebe, 26, a firefighter with the Lolo Hotshots based in Missoula, Montana, died from injuries suffered when he was struck by a tree.
The U.S. Forest Service says it is currently investigating his death.
The wildfire is located in the Great Basin National Park in Eastern Nevada, about 10 miles from the Nevada/Utah state line.
Authorities say the fire, which was started by a lightning strike on Aug. 8, has burned more than 4,600 acres. More than 400 people are involved with the firefighting effort.
Beebe was born on Feb. 2, 1990, in Springfield, Vermont, and grew up in Westminster.
He graduated from Bellows Falls Union High School in 2008 and did a post-graduate year at Vermont Academy.
He was captain of the BF soccer team and was a standout player in ice hockey and baseball as well. He also was an avid hunter, fisherman, and snowboarder.
Among other jobs, he worked on his family’s sugarbush and as a logger, and also for Saxtons River Orchards in Saxtons River.
Survivors include his parents, Sheldon and Betsy Beebe of Westminster, and his sister, Jessica. He also is survived by Jennifer Zaso, whom he was planning to marry.
Beebe’s parents said he had long wanted to become a Hotshot firefighter, and he was also planning to become an EMT to help people. They said their son was a charismatic, rugged Vermonter, and kids really responded to him.
“Justin devoted his life to woods and people, and that was his focus,” his family said in a prepared statement. “He loved being out of doors. That was what called him.”
Beebe had dyslexia, and his family said they are thinking about some sort of program that can help bring dyslexic kids into the woods to honor his memory.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete, but according to a friend of the Beebe family, John Gregg, the family is likely to head west for a service with his fellow Hotshots next weekend, then hold a service back in Vermont at a later date.