BLAINE, Minn. (KMSP) - A group of firefighters from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula were involved in a deadly crash on Interstate 35W in Blaine, Minnesota on their way to the Box Canyon wildfire in Utah. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, two people were killed in the crash. There were a total of 9 people in the truck, which had “Beartown Fire” lettering on its side.
The crash happened at about 3 p.m. Saturday on Interstate 35W and 95th Avenue in Blaine. The accident shut down the interstate for more than two hours. According to the State Patrol, the truck left the road for an unknown reason, struck the median cable barriers and rolled.
Facebook post from Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (Aug. 27 - updated)
The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community learned this evening that our Beartown Firefighting crew was involved in a tragic traffic accident. Two of our fire fighters were killed and several others were severely injured. Our hearts are broken and our prayers are with the family members and those injured.
We are continuing to gather information on the condition of each and every fire fighter who was sent to the Box Canyon fire. It has been difficult due to privacy laws. If any family members have questions, please contact the Tribal Police Department 353-6626.
There will also be staff at the Tribal Center to process Emergency Medical Travel beginning tonight. Family needing assistance should contact Larry Denomie at 201-0631.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.
***We just received an update from the Minnesota State Police. All the injured firefighters are expected to recover.
State Patrol releases identities of passengers
Alan Swartz, 25, Baraga, Mich.
James Shelifoe, 23, Baraga, Mich.
Michael Johnson, 28 , Baraga, Mich. (driver)
Dave Varline, 26, Baraga, Mich.
Tyler Tolonen, 26, Menomonee Falls, Wis.
Shashaywin Sandman Shelifoe, 29
Ross Jaukkuri, Ross, 33 Baraga, Mich.
Gavin Loonsfoot, 34 , Baraga, Mich.
Box Canyon Fire
The Box Canyon Fire in Utah has burned nearly 4,000 acres, fanned by heavy winds into the weekend. Ground crews have been working to protect the campground and a helicopter has been running bucket drops. Firefighters were adding sprinkler systems to the campground and adding protection to preserve a historic guard station. The Box Canyon fire was determined to be human caused. There are currently no leads on a person of interest in the cause of the fire.