MTPR

Firefighters Honor Fallen Hotshot

Aug 7, 2017

The body of a 29-year-old California firefighter who died in western Montana last week is now back home in California.

Twenty-nine year-old Hotshot Brent Witham of Mentone, California died August 2 after he was hit by a falling tree while fighting the Lolo Peak Fire.

Firefighters from across the country this morning escorted Witham’s body from the Garden City Funeral Home to the Missoula airport.

Members of the public lined the memorial procession route to pay their respects. Kate Gemar was one of them.

“I’m here because I heard on the TV and on the radio that they were going to honor our fallen smokejumper. Even though I can’t breathe because of the smoke, I decided I’d get out here," Gemar said. "I have flowers. I always bring flowers to this kind of stuff – and look, a lily bloomed.”

Gemar said she just wanted to take a few minutes to honor firefighters who risk everything to protect our communities.

“Thank God we have them. I guess I’m an old lady who cares.”

Brent Witham was the second firefighter death in Montana in less than two weeks. Trenton Johnson of Missoula died July 19 when a dead tree fell and hit him near Seeley Lake. He was 19-years-old.