Twenty years ago today, three firefighters lost their lives while fighting the Stanza Fire on the Klamath National Forest.
On July 22 of 2002, lightning sparked a fire in Stanza Creek south of Happy Camp. The steep
drainage made access to the fire difficult, and the fire grew large quickly in the dry fuel and steep country,
Engine 11 from the Lassen National Forest was dispatched as part of a strike team of fire engines to the Stanza Fire on July 25. On the night of July 28, while doing a routine patrol on a road on the edge of the fire, Lassen Engine 11 left the road and rolled down a steep embankment into a ravine. Only two of the five crew members survived.
The Lassen and Klamath national forests mourn the loss of Heather DePaulo-Johnny, 29; Steve Oustad, 51; and John Self, 19, from Lassen National Forest Engine 11 who lost their lives in service of their public lands and communities. They will not be forgotten.
The Lassen and Klamath national forests each maintain memorials dedicated to Heather, Steve, and John. The Lassen National Forest’s memorial is located at what was Engine 11’s duty station at the Almanor Ranger District office in Chester, California. The memorial on the Klamath National Forest is located at the site of the accident on the 15No3 Road, south of Happy Camp.