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A Strange Enough Ending

By Joseph Grant

This from an independent news service: Firefighters battling the blazes in Southwest California came across a bizarre sight last week. While struggling against the inferno and intense conditions that have scorched California timberland for the most of six days, volunteers came across a charred man in a tree. Upon further inspection, it was determined the man had been dead for an unspecified time.

It was not clear why or how the man climbed the giant pine or what he was doing in the tree. Rescue efforts had been under way up until the time it was declared that the man was apparently dead and then it became a recovery mission, said Fire Chief Larry Glendale.

While firefighters fought and maintained the inferno to a safe distance, medical personnel with the help of the California Parks Department reached the man. Theories as to how the corpse had gotten so high in the tree ranged from that of a hapless diver from the nearest lake to an unfortunate traveler, but these were discounted as the closest lake is found nearly ten miles to the north and the roads had been closed to the public since last Tuesday.

It was further confirmed that the man was already dead when the medical team reached him and had likely been so for days. The probable cause of death was most likely numerous fatal impalements upon the tree branches, a San Mateo Police Department spokesperson said requesting to remain anonymous. The body was recovered and pending identity and notification of next of kin, the manís name would not be released to the press.

A state autopsy last week revealed that the victim had likely been alive and dropped onto the tree and impaled and either died from his wounds, exposure but certainly not the flames, a Fire Department spokesperson stressed. The victim had almost certainly been plucked from the ocean by converted C-130ís pulling water to fight the fires several miles up the coast. The matter was turned over to the military yesterday to investigate whether any improper procedure was undertaken, resulting in the diverís death.

(C)opyright 2009 Joseph Grant All Rights Reserved

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