MENTONE – Honoring the life of U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Brent Michael Witham, Caltrans has installed a sign on a portion of State Route 38 in San Bernardino County, renaming it in his memory.
Pursuant to Senate Concurrent Resolution 32 (2019), by Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), the section of State Route 38 between Mill Creek Bridge and Mt. Home Creek Bridge near Mentone was officially designated the “United States Forest Service Firefighter Brent Michael Witham Memorial Highway.”
From Witham’s family: “We are so proud of our son who chose a noble profession with the USFS that allowed him to enjoy the great outdoors that he loved while also serving others by saving lives and property. He truly was a friend to all. Although we are heartbroken with our indescribable loss, Brent would want everyone to know that he is now safely home with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Knowing that, we are at peace and look forward to seeing him again in heaven.”
A resident of Mentone, Witham began his firefighting career in 2011 as a member of the Tahquitz Hand Crew based in Riverside and was assigned to Station 56 near Mountain Center in the San Jacinto Mountains in 2013.
In 2015, he became a member of the Vista Grande Hotshots based in the San Bernardino National Forest, one of the elite, 113 Hotshot crews in the U.S. tasked with the challenging job of either hiking or being airdropped to remote areas of the wilderness to fight fires, usually with just the equipment they can carry.
On August 2, 2017, while working on the Lolo Peak Fire in western Montana, Witham lost his life at the age of 29. His father, Mark Witham; his mother, Donna Giordano; his stepfather, Dave Giordano; his sister, Janelle Giordano Bell; his grandparents, Ken and Donna Witham; and his uncle and aunt, Douglas and Linda Witham, survive him.
Nearly three years since his passing, Witham is remembered by his fellow firefighters and loved ones who honor his memory annually.
“We are honored that the memory of Brent will be recognized every time we enter the Forest,” said Jody Noiron, Forest Supervisor. “His sacrifice and valor will always be remembered.”
A ceremony commemorating Witham’s life and the sign’s installation will be planned for a later date once restrictions are lifted on public gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Brent’s life and sacrifice is a testament to the selfless nature of firefighters, who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” said Morrell. “On behalf of a grateful state, we say thank you. Our hearts remain with Brent’s family, friends, and colleagues as they continue to carry on his memory.”