Los Padres National Forest Fire Commander Dies In Traffic Accident

Aug 31, 2017

A fire chief with the Los Padres National Forest has been killed in a traffic accident while returning home from battling a forest fire in Central California.

Santa Lucia District Battalion Chief Gary Helming was returning home from fighting the Mariposa Fire, north of Fresno near the Mariposa-Madera County Line. The accident happened this morning on Highway 41, southwest of Kettleman City.

Helming was southbound on Highway 41 when a tire blew out on a northbound vehicle, leading to a head-on crash. The 47 year old man was pronounced dead at the scene. He leaves behind a wife, and three children.

The Santa Maria based firefighter had been with the Forest Service for more than 20 years.