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Civilian killed at Fort Jackson training area, US Army says

Fort Jackson: The nation’s largest basic training base

Fort Jackson, which trains nearly 50,000 recruits a year, is the nation's largest basic training base.
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Fort Jackson, which trains nearly 50,000 recruits a year, is the nation's largest basic training base.

A person was killed at Fort Jackson Wednesday, according to the U.S. Army.

The person, who was Identified as a civilian employee, died after noon at “a prescribed burn operation in a post training area,” a spokesperson for the base said in a news release.

The person died at the base and their body was discovered during the controlled burn on one of Fort Jackson’s ranges, Public Affairs Officer Patrick Jones said in an interview with The State.

“We don’t know the cause of death,” Jones said.

An investigation into the individual’s death has been launched.

”Our thoughts and prayers are with the family members and teammates of the deceased,” U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr. said in a news release. “We are providing every comfort and assistance that we can to all involved.”

The person will be publicly identified after their family has been notified.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said his office had not been contacted about the death as of 6:30 p.m., which could mean the military will conduct any examinations on the body since the base is federal property.

Fort Jackson is the Army’s largest training installation, with more than 50,000 recruits assigned there each year.

This is not the first death reported on the base.

In October 2017, two soldiers were killed, and six more were injured during a training exercise, when they were hit by a military vehicle, The State reported.

An 18-year-old recruit died after a training march in August 2009, and in July 2016, a sergeant first class died after collapsing at the end of a physical fitness test, according to the newspaper.

Prescribed fires are those set intentionally by forest managers to clear brush and help restore some plant species to areas where the plants have disappeared. Some types of trees, such as rare long-leaf pines, need fire to survive.

Fort Jackson regularly manages its forest through prescribed fires, but those fires are supposed to be carefully controlled. Fort Jackson sometimes draws complaints from area residents upset about the smoke on the base.

Prescribed burning is seen as a way to prevent massive forest fires that could erupt if underbrush builds up, making the possibility of a more intense, out of control fire. An array of public parks and woodlands are burned intentionally, including Congaree National Park and the Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

Twenty firefighters spent Wednesday morning setting fires and containing them, part of the largest live-training exercise ever held on the American River Parkway. Video by Hector Amezcua of The Sacramento Bee.

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.

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