Firefighters Say They Were Shot At By Hunters, But Officials Say This is Untrue. What Really Happened?

Earlier this month details of a bizarre incident made its way to the public, describing a harrowing ordeal in which Australian firefighters working in Washington state say they spent hours evading gunfire from unidentified assailants. Despite their detailed accounts, the local sheriff has since stated that the incident was merely a “misunderstanding.” So what really happened?

On August 23, four individuals, including two firefighters from Australia, were surveying a forested area which had been the site of a recent forest fire. In the early afternoon, they spotted a pair of individuals roughly 200 yards away. Hoping to gain their attention – as this area was, at the time, declared unsafe for non-firefighting and non-forestry personnel – they began to try to get their attention.

Moments later, the firefighters say gunshots originating from the pair began to ring out in their vicinity. One account describes witnessing one of these individuals “put a scoped rifle on a bi-pod and looked up the mountain toward them,” with another confirming this.

Understandably suddenly afraid for their lives, they took cover behind a ridge and radioed for help. For three hours they waited, wondering if and when their unidentified attackers would kill them. They removed their high-visibility clothing and one of the local firefighters was reportedly so certain he was going to be killed that he recorded a farewell message for his family.

This report was withheld from the Australian public for a period out of fear that it would prompt a public outcry for Australian firefighting personnel to be withdrawn from the United States. Currently both countries have a cooperative agreement to assist each other in battling wildfires.

Once the report went public, though, American authorities rushed to mitigate the possible damage. Headlines are now circulating with a quotation from the Yakima County Sheriff’s office claiming that the incident was merely a “misunderstanding.”

Having taken the hunters’ at their word, the Sheriff’s office says the pair were simply unaware that there were firefighters in the area. Instead, they say they were hoping to capitalize on the recent forest fire to catch fleeing wildlife, including bears. While the Sheriff’s office acknowledges that five or six shots were fired, it adds that the acoustic qualities of the surrounding terrain likely caused echos, making it sound as though more were fired.

Because the area had been officially closed to hunters and the general public, the U.S. Forest Service gave both men citations but have been apparently otherwise cleared of wrongdoing — even though the incident resulted in a temporary suspension of firefighting efforts out of concern for personnel safety.

This is a classic case of “he said she said” – the only ones who know the true story, in this instance, are the hunters themselves. And, of course, they would not be particularly eager to admit to attempting murder. But what is truly disappointing is that with little apparent investigation, law enforcement officials have chosen to side with the hunters against foreign emergency personnel, presumably to save face. That, or, if a bit of cynicism can be permitted, it’s the product of a growing anti-foreigner sentiment that’s taken hold in the United States.

That aside, regardless of the hunters’ intent, this case represents, once again, the United States’ uniquely outrageous gun culture – one where even those calling for greater gun control still see little wrong with hunting for sport even if it puts others in danger.

Photo Credit: Blue Mountains Library via Flickr

59 comments

Jetana A
Jetana A12 days ago

Shame on the sheriff and the state of Washington! Obviously those hunters were poachers without licenses and should have been prosecuted for that as well as investigated for allegedly trying to murder the firefighters.

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Past Member
Past Member 13 days ago

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HEIKKI R
HEIKKI R17 days ago

thank you

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Camilla V
Camilla Vaga18 days ago

i wouldnt be surprised, hunters shoot anything

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Patty L
Patty L20 days ago

WOW! Everyone lies in trumplandia. I do not blame them for being scared. *** VOTE DEMOCRAT IN 2018 MIDTERM ELECTIONS TO RESTORE SOME SANITY TO THE WORLD ***

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Mark T
Mark T20 days ago

Ty.

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Dot A
Dot A20 days ago

Yes indeed, this TrumpAmerikkka is gun happy, lies for entertainment if not gain, and of course finds joy in seeking the animals which are trying to find safety from a fire zone. Flawed characters,.... Let's just bet that if these hunters took the time to vote it was for the tRump,... and their story sounds as solid as what comes out of tRump's mouth.

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Janis K
Janis K20 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Amanda M
Amanda M20 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda M20 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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