Victim of Fallen Tree in Washington Identified
A Sandpoint, Idaho, man was killed Sunday (Aug. 25) after a storm-toppled tree fell onto his tent at a campground in northeast Washington’s Pend Oreille County.
Pend Oreille County sheriff’s officials identified the man as Kyle L. Garrett, 48, the Bonner County (Idaho) Daily Bee reported.
A 52-year-old woman was also injured by the falling tree, but those injuries were not life-threatening, according to a sheriff’s news release. Her identity was not disclosed.
Deputies were summoned to the Stagger Inn Campground northwest of Priest Lake shortly after 11:30 p.m. A 200-foot tree was uprooted during Sunday’s windstorm and fell onto a tent Garrett was in.
The campground is located at 3,200-foot elevation. Its four campsites are near the spectacular Granite Falls and the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars, an old-growth forest accessed by a short trail from the campground.
The Stagger Inn Campground is about 12 miles northwest of Nordman, Idaho. It’s known for its old-growth cedars, which were named for President Theodore Roosevelt. The campground and an attendant trailhead are named after a 1926 fire camp that was so remote that weary firefighters had to hike into it after battling blazes.
It’s not clear if one of the ancient cedars fell on Garrett’s tent. Sheriff’s officials did not specify what kind of tree was blown down in the storm.
In advance of Labor Day weekend, the U.S. Forest Service announced on Monday that it is conducting a widespread assessment of its developed recreation sites to identify areas were storm damage may have weakened trees. Rapid assessments of campgrounds and picnic areas will determine whether temporary closures so hazardous trees can be removed.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident at our campground and are making every effort to ensure that last night’s storm damage has not left hazard trees in our developed recreation sites,” Idaho Panhandle National Forest Supervisor Mary Farnsworth said in a statement.
The Forest Service reminds forest visitors that hazardous trees may be present anywhere in the national forest. Visitors are encouraged take a hard look at their surroundings when selecting a campsite.
Hazardous trees are not always readily apparent, but there can be some obvious indicators, such as trees with damaged roots, branches or trunks. Insect-damaged trees and leaning or dead trees are especially hazardous during windstorms.
Assessment updates, including any temporary closures, will be posted at www.inciweb.org.