First responders, family, friends join service for Yuba City firefighter killed in helicopter crash
Special to The Union
Red and blue lights flashed through Yuba-Sutter streets to honor a local firefighter killed in the line of duty.
A procession of more than 100 emergency response vehicles and personnel traveled from the Yuba College campus to the Sutter Cemetery where a graveside service was held for Daniel Laird, the 23-year veteran of the Tahoe National Forest Service and helitack captain who was killed while conducting a controlled burn in Sam Houston National Forest near Houston on March 27.
Fire personnel from all over the North State participated in the procession, some coming from as far away as Oakland and Reno.
“Our Forest Service family is hurting over this tremendous loss,” said Randy Moore, regional forester for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, on a memorial website. “It is an emotional time and Daniel’s loss can impact even the strongest among us. We grieve with Daniel’s immediate family, friends, and community.”
As a symbol of the firefighter’s bridge to the next life, a large American flag, held up by two fire truck ladders, greeted the procession as it arrived at the cemetery.
While seating was limited at the graveside service, dozens gathered around to pay their respects.
Friends, family and colleagues of Laird also had the opportunity to speak during the funeral service.
Daniel’s father, Richard Laird, spoke of a fishing trip he took with his son not too long ago. He recounted how their trip was briefly interrupted by a bear sighting. He remembered the encounter with a chuckle, and said he was not sure who was spooked more — Daniel or the bear.
“He will be sorely missed,” Richard Laird said.
After the graveside service, the procession continued on to Orangevale where a memorial service was held at the House of Bread.
Laird was a life-long resident of Yuba City, attending Grace Christian Academy, Bridge Street School and later graduating from Yuba City High School. After high school, Laird joined the U.S. Forest Service and worked his way up the ranks.
According to a memorial website, Laird knew early in his life that he wanted to be a firefighter like his father and uncle.
He leaves behind a wife and a daughter.
Letters of condolence can be sent to the family through the Tahoe National Supervisor’s Office at 631 Coyote St., Nevada City, CA 95959.
This story was originally published by the Marysville Appeal-Democrat.
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A handful of local fires have kept firefighters busy over the past 48 hours, including a fully involved structure fire off Brady Road, a vegetation fire at Cherry Creek Road and Highway 49, and a vehicle fire at Purdon Crossing that threatened the historic 1889 bridge.