SAN BERNARDINO >> Brent Witham – the U.S. Forest Service firefighter who died while fighting a blaze in Montana – was remembered Thursday, Aug. 10, for his love of life and, above all else, family.
He was also recalled during a eulogy for his sense of humor: he was a prankster who wrote funny songs about being a hotshot – fire crews that either hike or are dropped into remote areas to fight fires, usually with just the equipment they can carry.
The memorial at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino was expected to last an hour and is being streamed online at www.ustream.tv/channel/cal-fire-tv
The stage was flanked by two hotshot-crew trucks and was lined by trees.
Witham, 29, a Mentone resident and 2006 graduate of Redlands East Valley High, was killed Aug. 2 when a tree fell on him as his Idyllwild-based Vista Grande Hotshots crew battled the flames of the Lolo Peak fire in Montana.
Witham’s family has a long service of history; not only was his grandfather a hot shot, but his dad is a retired San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy.
Janelle Gordon, Witham’s sister, seemed proud of her brother’s accomplishments.
He grew up from a skinny kid with bad teeth into a strong, confident man and take-charge firefighter, she said.
Witham, who was remembered by several as “genuine,” would often ensure others were never alone – even if he didn’t know them.
Nearly all of the 1,500 seats at the Orange Show were occupied.
Firefighters from various agencies – ranging from the U.S. Forest Service to the Idyllwild Fire Department…
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