DEATH: Fire chief’s death under investigation

DEATH: Fire chief’s death under investigation

24 June 2010

published by

USA — Investigators are continuing to look into the death of a rural Franklin County fire chief killed while fighting a brush fire Wednesday in Adams County.

Chief Chet Bauermeister, who led Franklin Fire District 4 in Basin City since late 2003, was operating a tracked ATV on a steep slope of Saddle Mountain when the ATV lost traction, said Adams Fire District 5 officials.

The rig flipped backward and rolled about 100 feet down the hill, officials said.

Bauermeister, 46, died at the scene.

Another firefighter from Fire District 4, Ryan F. Theroff, 29, was thrown from the rig and suffered minor injuries. He was treated at Othello Community Hospital and later released.

The 42-acre brush fire broke out around 2:45 p.m. in the area of Hart Road and Highway 24, south of Othello.

Firefighters with Adams Fire District 5 responded and found the brush burning on the south slope of Saddle Mountain near the Saddle Mountain Orchards, officials said.

Mutual aid was requested from Grant Fire District 8, Franklin Fire District 4, U.S. Fish & Wildlife and Hanford Fire.

The cause of the fire, which is now out, remains under investigation.

Washington state Department of Labor & Industries, as well as the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, with help from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office traffic unit, are investigating the accident.

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