Candlelight vigil Wednesday for firefighter, 21, killed near Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Candlelight vigil Wednesday for firefighter, 21, killed near Lake Tahoe

Staff report
Michael “Mikey” Hallenbeck
Courtesy photo |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A U.S. Forest Service firefighter died Saturday combating a fire near Lake Tahoe after being struck by a falling tree, officials said.

Michael “Mikey” Hallenbeck, 21, of Shingle Springs, Calif., was struck by a tree at about 5:30 p.m. during the initial attack on the Sierra Fire, just inside the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unity boundary south of Echo Summit, near the Eldorado National Forest.

Efforts to resuscitate Hallenbeck, who was a member of LTBMU Organized Crew 36, were not successful, according to a USFS news release.

Hallenbeck’s family issued the following statement Sunday evening: “Mikey was so excited to become a firefighter. When he first found out he had the position, he spent every day hiking with a pack to prepare. Mikey loved the outdoors and sports. He played football, basketball, soccer, ice hockey, tennis and golf. He also loved to snowboard and hike. He spent the last two ski seasons working for (Sierra-at-Tahoe) resort.

“Now he has had a greater calling. We are so very proud he stepped up to work hard and be brave to put others before himself. We cannot even begin to express the pain our family is going through and we ask for the respect of our privacy as we go through this devastating ordeal.”

Sierra-at-Tahoe ski will hold a candlelight vigil for Hallenbeck on Wednesday, Aug. 12, at 7 p.m., the resort announced Monday. Candles will be provided, and they’ll be lit at sunset on the Solstice Plaza in the resort’s base area.

Also, during the 2015-16 winter season, an organized “Ride for Mikey” will take place on the slopes of Sierra, resort officials said.

A second firefighter was reportedly injured in Saturday’s incident but later released from a local hospital after being treated.

The lightning-caused Sierra Fire was roughly one-tenth of an acre and was contained by Sunday, said LTMBU spokeswoman Cheva Gabor.