Incident Name: Gales Fire
Personnel: Frumencio “Mencio” Ruiz-Carapia
Agency/Organization: GE Forestry Fire
Position: Squad Boss
Carapia, age 56, was struck by a tree and succumbed to his injuries at the scene. He was engaged in suppression duties on the Gales Fire, part of the Middle Fork Complex, just southeast of Eugene, Oregon on the Willamette National Forest. He was a squad boss on a Medford, Oregon GE Forestry Fire crew that was assigned to the fire.
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“He was one of my best workers, he worked with me for 23 years, he worked hard, and firefighting is something he loved,” Esteban Gonzalez, the president of GE Forestry and Ruiz Carapia’s supervisor said.
Gonzalez said he knew the wildland firefighter since they were children and grew up in the same small town in San Martin, Mexico.
Ruiz Carapia’s former colleague, Victor Gomez said he worked with him for 19 years and spent a lot of time helping Ruiz Carapia learn the ins and outs of the job.
“He had such a contagious smile, it didn’t matter what was going on, if you were in a bad mood and he was around you couldn’t help but smile,” Gomez said.
Gomez explained that Ruiz Carapia was a hardworking, family man who always looked out for his fellow comrades.
“After a long fire season and everyone wants to go home, you know going into October, he always knew what to say and what to do to help boost morale and get us through the rest of the assignment,” he said. “When I think of him I think of all the good times, all the smiles, laughter, and remembering how he was always optimistic.”
Gomez added that he recently got a tattoo in honor of Ruiz Carapia, he said he hopes it is the last tattoo he gets to honor a fellow firefighter.
A family friend has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for funeral expenses.
According to Ruiz Carapia’s nephew, Martin Ruiz Duran Jr., the family plans on burying him in Mexico where his mother and brothers live.
Ruiz Carapia is survived by his wife, his four adult children, a grandson, and was expecting a granddaughter.
Contributors to this article: Michael Cox
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