Wyoming Smokejumper Tim Hart Killed Fighting New Mexico Wildfire

Smokejumpers have an incredible dangerous place in the fight against wildfires. They are often the first on the ground, jumping into the fire via parachute. It is a deadly task, yet many smokejumpers do their jobs to keep other civilian's and their homes safe.

New Mexico

Smokejumper Tim Hart was working on a fire in New Mexico on May 24. He worked for the West Yellowstone Smokejumpers based out of Custer Gallatin National Forest in Montana.

Hart suffered a hard fall while jumping in southern New Mexico. He was flown to a hospital in El Paso, Texas. Upon arrival, he was in critical condition.

On June 2, Hart passed away from his injuries, leaving behind his wife, Michelle Koch Hart.

According to a Custer Gallatin National Forest spokesperson, the cause is being investigated.

“I am deeply saddened to share that Tim Hart, a Forest Service Smokejumper, has died from injuries sustained on May 24 while responding to the Eicks Fire in Hidalgo County, New Mexico. Our hearts go out to Tim’s family, loved ones, friends, fellow Forest Service employees, and the entire wildland fire community and I ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers during this time of sorrow while respecting the family’s privacy.”

Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen

Years Of Service

Hart had began working as a wildland firefighter in 2006, beginning in Coconino National Forest. He moved to the Fremont-Winema National Forest where he worked as an Engine Crew Member.

He worked all over including North Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, Wyoming, and Nevada. In 2009, Hart was the Lead Forestry Technician for the Shoshone National Forest. He became the Lead Firefighter for the Asheville Interagency Hotshot Crew in 2010.

The Bureau of Land Management employed Hart on their Ruby Mountain Hotshot crew. In 2016, he became a smokejumper, beginning in Idaho and moving to Montana in 2019.

There he was the Smokejumper Squad Leader and moved to Spotter in 2020.

Final Trip Home

Wildland firefighters came together in Cody to say goodbye to Hart. According to C.J. Norvell, a U.S. Forest Service public information officer, the community is a close one.

“What we’re doing today is both the best and the worst that we do. The worst of course is that we’ve lost our brother… the good thing is that we’re able to support him and his family on their worst day.”

C.J. Norvell

A GoFundMe page has been started for Hart's widow.

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