BILLINGS — The Red Lodge firefighter injured Friday fighting the Harris Hill Fire north of Joliet has been identified as Dan Steffensen, a veteran volunteer who has fought wildfires across the western states, according to Red Lodge Fire Rescue.
Steffensen was in a two-person crew with another Red Lodge firefighter, Scott Wilson, when the wind shifted suddenly toward them.
Steffensen was overrun by the fire, but Wilson managed to escape, informed the incident commander, and get Steffensen to emergency medical care.
Steffensen was flown to the University of Utah Burn Center in Salt Lake City, where he is in serious condition, according to Red Lodge Fire. His family and fellow firefighters are traveling to be with him.
“We’d like to thank the wildland firefighting community for reaching out to us with offers of help and words of support. Please keep Dan and his family in your thoughts and prayers during these difficult times,” Red Lodge Fire Chief Tom Kuntz said in a statement. “This event is a reminder that firefighting is dangerous and we are truly grateful to those who answer the call to help others in time of need.”
Steffensen has been a firefighter for Red Lodge since 2015 and was named volunteer "Firefighter of the Year" in 2017.
He is a nationally-qualified wildland firefighter and has fought fires in Montana, Oregon, California and other western states as an engine boss and tender operator.
Red Lodge Fire noted that this year has already been an extremely difficult fire year, with high temperatures and dry conditions. As of Saturday morning, the Harris Hill fire had grown to 2,500 acres with no containment.
A GoFundMe account has been created to help Steffensen; click here if you would like to donate.