Loss of Los Padres National Forest Fire Chief Gary Helming

It is with great sadness that the Los Padres National Forest announces the death of Santa Lucia District Batallion Chief Gary Helming, who was killed in a vehicle collision early this morning while returning home from a fire assignment on the Railroad Fire in the Sierra National Forest.

Helming was born in El Cajon, California. He began working for the Forest Service 22 years ago as a seasonal firefighter. He worked for the BLM and the National Park Service before returning to the Forest Service again in 2013. He was a batallion chief stationed in Santa Maria, California.

“Our hearts go out to Gary’s family, the Forest Service and the wildland fire community – he exemplified the highest standards of honor and professionalism,” said Los Padres Deputy Forest Supervisor Ken Heffner. “Gary was a tremendous leader, partner and thoughtful person who engaged with everyone. He will be greatly missed.”

Helming is survived by his wife, three children and their family. The Los Padres National Forest will share further information as it becomes available.

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