EDGEMONT, S.D. — August 11, 2011 – 23-year-old Trampus Haskvitz, a seasonal firefighter for South Dakota Wildland Fire in his fifth season, died while battling the Coal Canyon Fire near Edgemont.
“The reason we’re here today is to honor Trampus; Trampus paid the ultimate price in the line of duty for the State of South Dakota and for our citizens,” says Jay Esperance, director of South Dakota Wildland Fire.
Haskvitz and his crew were over-run by flames as the fire cut off their escape route – ultimately becoming trapped in a fire engine, where he perished.
10 years later, Wildland Fire commemorating Trampus’ sacrifice by presenting a plaque to the Haskvitz family.
More than a hundred people – friends, family, and firefighters – showed up for the memorial, serving as a testament to the impact the Haskvitz family has in the community.
“I’m so honored to see all these people…all the firefighters…all the sacrifices you guys make that aren’t mentioned here…and to all my great friends that drove miles just to be here…to go through this,” says Don Haskvitz, Trampus’ father. “The only words I can think of is it hurts so good.”
A decade of learning, remembering, and training – all to prevent the same tragedy from happening again.
Jay Wickham, assistant chief of operations for South Dakota Wildland Fire, says they conduct yearly training at the site of the fire – using it as a learning tool for wildland firefighters in the future.
“We are more prepared today for if this tragedy would happen to our agency again…we’ve learned from that…and I would say that we’re more prepared to help the family…to help the firefighters who were on scene of the incident,” Wickham says. “We’re more prepared for that today than we were ten years ago.”
South Dakota Department of Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Craig Price reading tributes from former Governor Dennis Daugaard and Governor Kristi Noem:
“Firefighters exemplify the best attributes of our humanity as they rush towards danger without thought of their own personal safety…That’s what Trampus did ten years ago.”