~ The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Mourns the Loss of Two Forest Rangers Who Had Served More than Ten Years Each ~
Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released the names of two firefighters of the Division of Forestry who were killed yesterday. Josh Burch and Brett Fulton lost their lives while fighting the Blue Ribbon Fire in Hamilton County.
“The wildfires have ravaged our state, burning more than 200,000 acres, and now, they have taken the lives of two of our very own men,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. “My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of Josh Burch and Brett Fulton, two courageous heroes who sacrificed their lives for the safety of others.”
Burch, 31, was a Forest Ranger who lived in Lake City with his wife and two children. He worked with the Division of Forestry for more than ten years. Fulton, 52, began as a professional welder with the Division 12 years ago. He has been a Forest Ranger with the Department for more than nine years. Fulton leaves behind a wife and two grown children in White Springs.
Two other Division of Forestry firefighters – Robert Marvin and Stephen Carpenter – were injured yesterday, while attempting to assist their fellow firefighters. Both were treated for smoke-related injuries and released last night.
The Blue Ribbon Fire started on June 16, 2011. The fire had previously been declared contained, but recent extreme fire weather caused the fire to flare up again on Monday, June 20. The local field unit has been actively working the fire since early Monday afternoon.
Florida’s dry weather since the beginning of May has caused extreme fire activity. Since May 1, the Department’s Division of Forestry has battled more than 1,500 wildfires that have burned nearly 200,000 acres across the state, making it one of the busiest wildfire years in recent history. Florida firefighters face an average of more than 31 new wildfires every day.
For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com or follow Commissioner Putnam on Facebook, www.facebook.com/adamputnam, or Twitter, @adamputnam.