Firefighter dies at Big Bradley Falls

Published 3:21 pm Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jessen&squo;s death is at least the fourth death near that location since 1993. Several accidents and serious injuries have also occurred from people falling off the falls over the last several years. The accident happened at about 11 a.m. on a quarter-acre wildfire that began Wednesday afternoon. Jessen, 32, was working on the fire when he fell from a cliff. Authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding Jessen&squo;s

fall and the fire. Jessen began working with the N.C. Division of Forest Resources in February 2002. Since that time he has worked as a forest inventory analysis forester and a service forester before being promoted to assistant district forester.

North Carolina has had nine wildfire-related deaths since 1960, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.Jessen fell about 50 ft. from Bradley Falls around 11 a.m. while working a fire that was called in around 6 p.m. Wednesday. Firefighters worked by hand Wednesday evening and Thursday and got the fire contained by yesterday afternoon.The area where the fall occurred was about a 25 minute hike into the area.Information officers said the crews were dealing with very rugged and dangerous terrain.Chief Deputy Zach Pace and David Boykin with the Saluda Fire and Rescue were discovered the small brush fire Wednesday evening and called in the forest service, Boykin said. The two smelled smoke while doing routine preplanning of the area. Firefighters and rescue workers spent Thursday afternoon trying to reach Jessen. Agencies involved included the Polk County Rescue Squad, the Henderson County Rescue Squad, Saluda Fire and Rescue, Mountain Home Fire and Rescue, Valley Hill Fire and Rescue, Green River Fire and Rescue and Dana Fire and Rescue. The Polk County Sheriff&squo;s Office assisted with traffic control and the Polk County Chapter of the American Red Cross was on scene providing food and water to crews. Blue Ridge Fire was on stand by for Saluda.

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