Subj: Lightning Kills Two Utah Prisoners Fighting Fires
Date: 8/24/00 4:29:49 AM Pacific Daylight Time

August 24 12:48 AM ET

Lightning Kills Two Utah Prisoners Fighting Fires

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Lightning struck a group of prisoners
fighting a mountain blaze west of Salt Lake City, killing two and
injuring five, officials said.

Utah Department of Correction spokesman Jack Ford said six of the seven
firefighters were inmates from the Utah State Prison and part of an
elite fire-fighting unit called the "Flame-in-Goes" who were battling a
blaze on Stansbury Mountains 40 miles west of Salt Lake City.

The inmates killed Wednesday were Michael Bishop, convicted of homicide
and scheduled for parole in 2002, and Rodgie Braithwaite, convicted of
automobile homicide, scheduled for parole in 2001.

"Both had been model inmates," Ford said. This was their first year on
the firefighting crew.

According to the Interagency Fire Center in Salt Lake City the
firefighters did all they could to avoid trouble when the storm clouds
moved in.

"They were doing proper procedures, putting their equipment down,
turning off their radios when the storm cell rolled in," agency
spokeswoman Kathy Jo Pollock said.

Pollock said the "Flame-in-Goes'" unit was well respected in the
fire-fighting community. "They were fellow firefighters no matter how
you look at it," said Pollock.

According to the Utah Department of Correction, the lightning approached
quickly while the firefighters were clearing brush and digging trenches.

The "Flame-in-Goes" unit has been operating for several years and
hundreds of inmates apply for the job each year, Ford said.

About 1.4 million acres of land are currently burning across the western
part of the United States in the worst fire season in nearly 50 years.