Firefighter killed battling massive California blaze

Firefighter killed battling massive California blaze

LOS ANGELES - Reuters
Firefighter killed battling massive California blaze

A firefighter was killed on Dec. 14 while battling a mammoth California wildfire as crews sought to protect coastal cities and towns in the path of flames that have destroyed more than 700 homes.

The flag-draped remains of firefighter Cory Iverson, 32, were driven out of the fire zone in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles, in a hearse as his comrades saluted from roadsides and overpasses.

“Anne and I are saddened by Engineer Cory Iverson’s tragic death. His bravery and years of committed service to the people of California will never be forgotten,” California Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement.

Fire officials released little information about the circumstances surrounding Iverson’s death, which came while he was fighting the so-called Thomas Fire, now the fourth-largest wildfire on record in California since 1932.

The Thomas Fire, which erupted on Dec. 4 near a small private college in Ojai, has since blackened more than 249,000 acres.

The conflagration advanced again overnight to surpass the Zaca Fire, which struck Santa Barbara County in 2007, charring 240,000 acres (97,120 hectares).

The Thomas Fire, which was 35 percent contained as of Dec. 14 evening, has burned 729 single-family homes to the ground and damaged another 175. The blaze has displaced more than 94,000 people.

The wildfire remained a threat to some 18,000 homes and other structures in the communities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland and Montecito along California’s scenic coastline, especially if hot, dry Santa Ana winds return.

California, fire, blaze, firefighter, forest fire