Searchers in New Mexico find body of missing firefighter

by Reuters
Saturday, 7 September 2013 00:31 GMT

By Zelie Pollon

SANTA FE, N.M., Sept 6 (Reuters) - Searchers in New Mexico found the body of a missing firefighter on Friday, a week after he disappeared in rugged wilderness in the Santa Fe National Forest when he rode out on an all-terrain vehicle to check on a small wildfire.

The body of Token Adams, 41, was located by a Native American search team in an area of the forest called Stable Mesa, said David Shell, a spokesman for the national incident management team called in to aid the search.

His death comes amid a particularly tragic season for wildland firefighters, as dozens of large and fast-moving wildfires have raged across the drought-parched U.S. West this year, straining national firefighting resources.

Nineteen members of a squad of elite hotshot firefighters died in an Arizona fire in June, and last month in Oregon a firefighter died when a tree fell on him.

Adams, who was married with one child, worked as an engine captain for a fire crew at the Jemez Ranger District. He disappeared last Friday after he went out to check on a lightning-sparked in the Jemez Mountain District of the forest.

"They believe at this time that the cause of death was an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) crash," Shell said.

Adams had gone out to check on the blaze with two colleagues, but they separated with plans to meet later, Denise Ottaviano, spokeswoman for the Santa Fe National Forest, said earlier this week.

The fire that Adams and the other two firefighters were sent to assess was contained at 25 acres (10 hectares). (Reporting by Zelie Pollon, Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Vicki Allen)

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