Firefighter I Eva Schicke was killed on September 12, 2004, when her helitack crew was overrun by fire in the Tuolomne River Canyon on the Stanislaus National Forest in California. Shicke, who was 23, had been a seasonal firefighter with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for five seasons. The other six firefighters with her received minor to moderate injuries in the incident, which is being investigated by a joint CDF-US Forest Service team.
Schicke, who lived in the town of Arnold, had been a basketball player at California State University, Stanislaus, where she received a degree in criminal justice in 2002. This was her first year on the Columbia Helitack Crew, and she was its only female member. CDF battalion chief Jeff Millar described her as a "fast learner" on the crew and told reporters, "She liked the challenge. She always kept up good spirits when we were working long hours, dirty and hot. She kept smiling."
CDF employs thousands of career and seasonal personnel. In the history of the agency, 70 CDF firefighters have died in the line of duty; Schicke is the first woman.
The fire where Schicke died was a relatively small one in rugged, forested terrain that has been under high fire alert for the past month. Officials planned a rope-rescue attempt to recover Schicke's body as soon as fire conditions would allow.
Governor Schwarzenegger issued a statement ordering the state capitol's flags to be flown at half-staff in Shicke's honor. "She bravely risked her life to protect our homes and ensure our safety. In the face of danger, Eva acted with courage and commitment... Maria and I send our deepest sympathies to her loved ones," he said.
More information is available on the CDF website at www.fire.ca.gov. Also see an article from the Sacramento Bee
CDF Firefighters Local 2881 has established a Memorial Fund to help Eva's family. Checks can be made payable to "CDF Firefighters Eva Schicke Memorial Fund" and addressed to:
Merchants National Bank
CDF Firefighters Eva Schicke Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 747
Sacramento CA 95812
Those wishing to send cards and letters to the family may do so at the following addresses:
c/o CDF Arnold Station
2517 Highway 4
Arnold CA 95223
c/o Ebbetts Pass FPD Station 1
1028 Manuel Road
Arnold CA 95223
NETWORKING THE WOMEN OF TODAY'S FIREFIGHTING WORLD, AND PROVIDING RESOURCES TO HELP BUILD THE FIRE SERVICE OF THE FUTURE