Relief Fund Established as Fifth Firefighter Dies

The California wildfire that took the lives of four U.S. Forest Service firefighters last week claimed a fifth victim this week with the death of Pablo Cerda, 23, who suffered burns over 90 percent of his body while fighting the blaze. The IAM is calling on locals, districts and members to contribute to a relief fund established to aid the families of the victims.

Four of the five firefighters who perished on Oct. 27: Jess McLean, 27; Jason McKay, 27; Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20 and Pablo Cerda, 23 were represented by the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) Local 1558.  Also killed was Engine Captain Mark Loutenhiser, 44, a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Forest Service.

The death of Pablo Cerda made it the greatest loss of firefighters in a single incident while battling a wildfire since 14 were killed in July 1994 near Glenwood Springs, Colo.

“These men died heroically, protecting their fellow citizens, each other and the land they loved,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “We owe their families all the support and strength we can give them.”

The IAM is urging members to send donations to the IAM Fallen Firefighters Fund c/o Maria Cordone, IAM Community Services Dept., 9000 Machinists Place., Upper Marlboro, MD 20772.