EMERY COUNTY, Utah (Janalee Luke) – Hundreds of firefighters have spent countless hours fighting the Trail Mountain Fire up in Crandall Canyon, but for one man, the mission is more personal having lost his father in the Crandall Canyon Mine tragedy in 2007.
In an article posted to the Emery County Sheriff’s Facebook, Dustin Jensen is an Incident Technical Support Specialist (ITSS) for the Great Basin Type 2 Incident Management Team. His father, Gary “Gibb” Jensen, an MSHA inspector, lost his life due to injuries sustained in the second cave-in at the Crandall Canyon Mine on August 16, 2007. Eleven years later Dustin Jensen is now on the team trying to protect that same mine.
With last Sunday being Father’s Day, Dustin Jensen’s wife and children traveled to Emery County to visit him. They drove up to Crandall Canyon, but did not want to disturb crews who were working on protection measures around the mine and memorial. The Jensen family usually visit the memorial whenever they are in Emery County, but they weren’t able to make a Father’s Day visit this year.
As the fire got closer to Crandall Canyon, Dustin Jensen was filled with mixed emotions. Having worked with this team on complex fires with a lot of values at risk, Dustin knew of the great work the team was capable of. He knew they would do all they could to protect the mine and save the memorial.
“My dad is buried in the Redmond Cemetery. We can go to his grave,” said Dustin Jensen. “We have that peaceful place to visit, but others who lost family members at Crandall don’t have that. They have the memorial. That is their peaceful place.”
On Saturday, Emery County Sheriff’s personnel were able to visit the memorial with the Jensen family and IMT Public Information Officer Jesse Bender all while ground crews were busy working in the area, small hot spots were flaring up in the rocky terrain above the mine, and air support was continuously flying overhead dropping water on the ridge above the mine.
All this activity did not take away from the few solemn minutes spent in the memorial grove. Dustin Jensen expressed his appreciation for his co-workers.
“They are like family. Everyone supports each other and has fun, but they take their jobs seriously,” said Dustin Jensen. “They knew how to take care of the mine and the memorial.”
This story was written by Janalee Luke and published to the Emery County Sheriff’s Facebook page. All photos and content within are copyright of Janalee Luke.