It is with great sadness that I share with you the tragic death of Los Padres National Forest Santa Lucia Ranger District Battalion Chief Gary Helming. Gary died in a vehicle collision this morning returning to his home unit from the Railroad Fire on the Sierra National Forest. Gary was 47 years old.
Gary was born in El Cajon, California. He began working for the Forest Service 22 years ago as a seasonal firefighter. He moved to the BLM and the National Park Service before returning to the Forest Service again in 2013. Gary was loved and very well respected in the fire community for his professionalism and knowledge, having worked in close coordination on many complex incidents with our partners.
Our Forest Service family is hurting over this sad loss. The Region will be providing support to the Los Padres National Forest over the next few weeks. As we learn more about Gary in the days ahead, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating his life and supporting his grieving family, friends and colleagues on the forest.