Local News

N.C. firefighter dies battling blaze

Posted August 21, 2008
Updated August 22, 2008

— The N.C. Division of Forest Resources said one of its firefighters was killed Thursday fighting a blaze in Polk County.

Curtis Jessen, the division’s assistant district forester in Asheville, suffered critical injuries after falling from the Big Bradley Falls near Saluda, the agency said. He was later pronounced dead.

“This is a very sad day for the entire Division of Forest Resources and  all of our firefighting partners,” said Wib Owen, the division director. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Curtis and his family.”

The accident happened at about 11 a.m. at a quarter-acre wildfire that  began Wednesday afternoon.

Jessen, 32, was working on the fire when he fell from a cliff.

He began working with the N.C. Division of Forest Resources in February 2002. Since then, he had worked as a forest inventory analysis forester and a service forester before being promoted to assistant district forester.

North Carolina has had nine wildfire-related deaths since 1960, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.


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  • Silver loves Rebel Red puppies Aug 22, 2008

    The loss of a brave young firefighter is a terrible loss not just to his family, but to all of us. Thoughts and prayers to his family and fellows.

  • yukonjohn3 Aug 22, 2008

    As a wildland firefighter we mourn the loss of a Brother. God ease the pain to his family and relieve their suffering. Godspeed and Rest in Peace.

    John Greene
    Alaska Fire Service

  • Rocknhorse Aug 22, 2008

    This is a profession made up of heroes! It's so sad to read that one of those heroes has lost his life!

    My heart and prayers go out to his family, friends and fellow firefighters!

  • Gnathostomata Aug 22, 2008

    My prayers go out to the family of this noble man who died protecting the rest of us from tragedy. Firefighters are my heroes...

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Aug 22, 2008

    Agreed Rev. RB. Condolences to the firefighter's family and relatives. He died in the line of duty.

  • Adelinthe Aug 22, 2008

    What a shame!

    Praying for his loved ones.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB