Sunday, October 26, 2008

In Memorium: Engine 57 - flags a half staff today

All Cal Fire facilities will fly their flags a half staff today in memory of the crew of Engine 57. A moment of silence will be observed a 12 noon today.
Friends, family of five fallen firefighters to mark second anniversary of their deaths
2nd anniversary reality sets in
By Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell

Today is the second anniversary of the day five area firefighters died in the fierce Esperanza Fire in the San Jacinto Mountains.
For the mothers, fathers, fire captains and others recognizing the day, it is in some ways a more difficult time than the first.

"The first year was so busy with all the functions to go to," said Vivian Najera, aunt of Daniel Hoover-Najera, one of the fallen firefighters. "This year, it seems like the reality has set in that it really happened. Now we have such an empty feeling and miss him even more."

The four members of U.S. Forest Service Engine Crew 57 who died at the scene were Engine Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser, 43, of Idyllwild; Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto; fire engine operator Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; and assistant fire engine operator Jason McKay, 27, of Phelan.

The fifth firefighter, Pablo Cerda, 23, of Fountain Valley, died Oct. 31 at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton.

In the year following their deaths, there were several events commemorating the five men. Parks and other places were dedicated to them in their hometowns.

On the first anniversary, a moment of silence was observed by San Bernardino National Forest employees.

Today, there will again be a moment of silence at noon.

"It is a time when we will honor our fellow firefighters, who will always be a part of our Forest Service family," said San Bernardino National Forest Fire Chief Mike Dietrich.

On Saturday, Cal Fire also dedicated the new interagency Station 24 in Cabazon in memory of the hundreds of firefighters who fought the Esperanza Fire. There will be a plaque naming the five who fell, Dietrich said.

A moment of silence will also be held at the memorial event Najera has organized at Jo'An's Restaurant in Idyllwild.

The event is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and will feature four bands.

There will also be a raffle and CDs will be sold to raise money for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, a nonprofit that provides assistance to fallen firefighters' families.

"We don't want to sadden everyone," Najera said. "Our goal is to celebrate their lives because they were very loved."

The family of McLean has chosen to honor his memory with the first Jess McLean Memorial Baseball Tournament. It began Saturday and is to continue today at Noble Creek Park in Beaumont.

Games will be held on the field that was named after McLean. Money raised will also be donated to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Bonnie McKay, the mother of Jason McKay, will mark the day at Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Apple Valley, where her son is buried.

It is a quiet and beautiful place where she has spent many Sundays.

"It seems like it will be even more solemn this time around," she said. "Time has taught us how to deal with it, but it certainly does not heal it."
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1 comment:

  1. Dear Families of Fallen Firefighters,
    As a firefighter family, we invite you to an open house at our home, Florian Villa on St. John. We'll provide accommodations and just need to arrange your airfare to St. Thomas (airport code STT) and a rental car. We can help you arrange both.

    The dates for the open house are November 4-8, 2008. Come for one or all of the days - no strings, or hoax, it's just our way of thanking you for your family's service and sacrifice. Please pass along...we'll accommodate as many as possible and if there is excess demand we'll do it again in the spring.

    Please call or email for details. 617-429-6182,

    Learn more about our mission: http:/

    Be well and be safe,
    Deborah and Scott (Capt. Boston Fire Department)
    Owners of Florian Villa


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