Wildland Firefighting Expert Sonny Stiger Passes Away

Sonny Stiger

Everett M. “Sonny” Stiger, an expert in wildland fire and Fire Engineering author, has passed away at the age of 86.

Stiger, who wrote and published The Sleeping Giant Awakens: Diary of a Forester/Firefighter, worked to reawaken the understanding that fire is a natural part of the ecosystem and that efforts by forest managers to eliminate fire from the landscape of the American West had unintended consequences.

According to his obituary, Stiger passed away on October 19, 2021 at home with his wife, Beverly, at his side. He had Parkinson’s Disease and donated his body to science and Parkinson’s research.

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Born in Wichita, Kansas, Stiger graduated from Colorado State University with degrees in forestry and range management. He went on to or the U.S. Forest Service from 1956 to 1984, followed by ten years with Montana Prescribed Fire Services. Stiger continued to be active as a Fire Management Consultant for Tri-County FireSafe Working Group and Lewis and Clark County Fire Council until his death.

“As I have gone through my career, I have been blessed to have met some of the most influential and authentic men and women the fire service has known. Sonny was one of those people,” said Fire Engineering Editor in Chief Bobby Halton.

“Sonny had the wisdom of Leo Stapleton, the wit of Alan Brunacini, the charm of Tom Brennan…and something that none of those other giants had: Sonny had an incredible relationship with nature,” Halton continued. “Sonny understood not only how fire behaved but how nature responded to fire both positively and negatively. Sonny also like all of the other giants of our time knew how to explain incredibly complex issues to almost everyone. Whether he was describing how the pine beetle infestation enabled fire spread or how groundcover can actually work in our favor in certain fire events, he made it all understandable. I will always be grateful for the time I had listening to him and learning from him. The world is a better place, the wildland fire community is a better place, and now Sonny is in a better place.”

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