July 22, 2023 marks the 20-year anniversary of the deaths of Jeff Allen and Shane Heath, two firefighters and Boise State business students who tragically died fighting the Cramer Fire on the Salmon River Breaks in central Idaho.
Born and raised in Idaho, Allen and Heath were classmates and friends who worked as seasonal firefighters during the summers. Both served as “heli-rappellers” – flying to fires burning in difficult or remote terrain and rappelling several hundred feet from a helicopter to fight fire on the ground.
In July 2003, Allen and Heath were working with the Indianola Helitack Crew out of Salmon, Idaho, and were called to the Cramer Fire near the Salmon River. They rappelled into the area to clear a landing and take-off spot for the helicopter and crew that would fight the fire. However, their position became compromised when the fire spread to the slope below them, causing the flames to overtake them before they could be extracted.
Although 20 years have passed since their deaths, their memories and legacies live on through their friends, families and all those whose lives they touched. The lessons learned from their deaths have been used to train new firefighters and help protect the crews that came after them.
The College of Business and Economics created a permanent memorial in 2004 for Allen and Heath in front of Riverfront Hall, where a tree and bronze plaques were planted in their honor.