Young Firefighter Killed In What Is California’s Fourth Largest Fire

A firefighter working to battle the fourth largest wildfire in California history died on Thursday.

Cory Iverson, an engineer with a state fire engine strike team based in San Diego, was helping put out the colossal blaze along the coastal mountain northwest of Los Angeles, the Chicago Tribune reports. The 32-year-old is survived by his pregnant wife and their two-year-old daughter, according to Fire Chief Ken Pimlott of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Iverson had working with the state since 2009.

Pimlott declined to provide further details about the circumstances surrounding Iverson’s death, but said that it was now under investigation by an accident review team. He said he was “deeply saddened” by Iverson’s death, but that fire crews continue to remain focused on their mission of putting out the fire.

At a news conference, Pimlott said,

The firefight in front of us continues to go on. The communities we are protecting are depending on us and we will not fail.

Dozens of police and fire vehicles accompanied a hearse carrying Iverson’s flag-draped body on Thursday, where they made their way to the county medical examiner’s office in Ventura.

This is the second death linked to this wildfire. Last week, a 70-year-old woman’s body was found inside a wrecked car. The car had an accident while evacuating.

The strong Santa Ana winds have brought renewed activity to inland areas of what is now being called the Thomas Fire that continues to rage across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Authorities estimate the fire to have now covered 379 square miles, and firefighting costs have reached $74.7 million, said Cal Fire.

Many schools remain closed and some roads have been shut down. Coastal areas to the west of the region remain under threat as firefighting crews continue to protect homes in Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.

Since the fire began on December 4, it has razed 970 buildings, including around 700 houses. It is now around 30% contained, and continues to spread mostly into national forest land.

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