NewsMissoula County


Sacrifice of men killed in Western Montana wildfires being remembered

Posted at 12:34 PM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 14:56:38-04

MISSOULA – Two firefighters who were killed during Western Montana’s historic 2017 wildfire season are being remembered this week.

The young Missoula firefighter who was killed at the outset of the terrible 2017 fire season will be remembered as state and community officials name a section of Montana Highway 83 in his honor.

Trenton Johnson,
Trenton Johnson, 19, of Missoula died battling a 2017 wildfire in Seeley Lake (courtesy photo)

Trenton Johnson, 19, was with a wildland firefighting crew from Grayback Forestry in mid-July as they were making the initial attack on a ½-acre, lightning-caused, fire near Seeley Lake.

That’s when tragedy hit as the Hellgate High School graduate was struck and killed by a falling tree. The accident cut short Johnson’s dream of being a firefighter and stunned his colleagues and the community.

The ceremony to name Montana Highway 83 through Seeley Lake as the Trenton Johnson Memorial Highway will start at 10 a.m. Friday next to Lindy’s Prime Steakhouse.

Brent Witham
Brent Witham of California died battling the 2017 Lolo Peak fire. (courtesy photo)

The loss of Johnson was amplified a short time later, when California firefighter Brent Witham was killed by a falling tree while fighting the Lolo Peak Fire.

Montana State Senator Diane Sands, former US Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth and others will gather at 10 a.m. on Thursday at the Lolo Steak House parking lot to unveil a marker designating a section of US Highway 12 in Lolo in Witham’s honor.