- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) - Hundreds of people lined the streets and highways near Lake Tahoe on Thursday to pay their respects as a funeral procession passed for a U.S. Forest Service firefighter killed while responding to a Sierra wildfire.

Michael “Mikey” Hallenbeck, 21, of Shingle Springs, California, was fatally injured when a tree fell on him Aug. 8 during the initial attack on the fire in the Eldorado National Forest near Echo Summit south of Tahoe.

The procession began about 10 a.m. Thursday in South Lake Tahoe, passing under American flags suspended from two ladder trucks on the way to Hallenbeck’s final resting place in Placerville about 30 miles west of Sacramento.

It traveled westbound on U.S. Highway 50 through Meyers over Echo Summit as officials for the Eldorado National Forest and other area agencies showed their support with fire equipment stationed on highway overpasses.

The night before, about 200 family members, friends and co-workers gathered for a candlelight vigil at nearby Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort to honor the man they remembered as a dedicated firefighter and avid snowboarder.

“He was an adventurer and a wanderer,” said Nick Olson, a longtime friend who spent hours hiking with Hallenbeck and listening to Eminem lyrics.

“That kid was fearless. That kid would stand up for anybody. He was a brave soul,” Olson told the Reno Gazette-Journal (http://tinyurl.com/nhf6pz9)

Hallenbeck was just beginning to figure out what he wanted to do with his life, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Seligsohn said.

“His smile hurt to look at, it was such a big smile,” Seligsohn said. “It’s just tragic.”

A private memorial service was planned on Saturday.

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

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