Stretch of Highway 83 named in memory of Missoula firefighter Trenton Johnson

(KPAX)  – Trenton Johnson lost his life while protecting his home state from a Seeley Lake wildfire which would eventually become part of the massive Rice Ridge fire.

On Friday morning, next to Seeley Lake, officials dedicated a stretch of highway in his honor, as well as declaring Trenton Johnson Day — something his sisters says he would have loved.

“He spent a lot of time in this valley. We rolled down that grass hill right there as kids with my grandpa, so he would be exceptionally happy that everyone is here gathered together to celebrate and be happy and put a smile on everyone’s face as much as they possibly could,” Johnson’s sister DJ said.

Thanks to Gov. Steve Bullock signing Senate Bill 260, a sign marks the beginning of an eight-mile stretch along Montana Highway 83 honoring Johnson, who was a Missoula native and Hellgate High School graduate.

“We will associate it with the regeneration of the forest, life regenerates and that’s such an impact we couldn’t do that without Governor Bullock without our county commissioners — our state senators who ran this bill through. So I can’t express collectively and behalf of all of our fellow firefighters what a big deal this is and how it uplifts our spirits when we see it,” Lolo National Forest training specialist Chris Johnson said.

Trenton Johnson

Trenton Johnson still has friends protecting Montana from forest fires and one of his former crew bosses couldn’t think of a better way to honor him.

“These young men and women are heroes as well those that have had the strength to carry on the memory of Trenton with an unwavering determination to continue as firefighters. I think this honors Trenton very fittingly. His unselfish nature would demand that his friends and family carry the torch bravely on as he would have himself,” Adam Babbitt, Johnson’s former crew boss at Grayback Forestry, said.

The stretch of highway dedicated to Johnson runs along Seeley Lake, ending at mile marker 23 on Montana Highway 83.

Section of Highway 12 memorializes firefighter killed in 2017 Lolo Peak fire