Fire engineer dies as California’s Thomas Fire keeps burning

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In this Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, flames from a back firing operation underway rise behind a home off Ladera Lane near Bella Vista Drive in Santa Barbara, Calif. Red Flag warnings for the critical combination of low humidity and strong winds expired for a swath of Southern California at midmorning but a new warning was scheduled to go into effect Saturday in the fire area due to the predicted return of winds. The so-called Thomas Fire, the fourth-largest in California history, was 35 percent contained after sweeping across more than 394 square miles (1,020 sq. kilometers) of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties since it erupted Dec. 4 a few miles from Thomas Aquinas College. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

As firefighters continue to battle the Thomas Fire in Southern California, one family is mourning the loss of their own.

A procession was held on Highway 126 in Fillmore on Thursday afternoon to honor Cory David Iverson, a 32-year-old firefighter who lost his life battling the Thomas Fire, the largest of the blazes.
Iverson, who had been a firefighter with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection — also known as Cal Fire — since 2009, was a fire apparatus engineer from San Diego, according to a Cal Fire spokeswoman.
Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson died while fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. He leaves behind his pregnant wife, Ashley, and toddler daughter Evie.

He drove a fire engine and was killed on the east flank of the Thomas Fire, Lynne Tolmachoff said. Iverson was with a strike team of two or three other crew members when he was killed, she said. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
Iverson leaves behind his wife, a 2-year-old daughter and an unborn baby, expected this spring. His death is the first firefighter fatality in the most recent string of wildfires in California.
Officials are investigating the incident, said Julia Martony, another Cal Fire spokeswoman, and it will take some time to conclude.
The Thomas Fire broke out December 4 in Ojai, northwest of Los Angeles. Aided by Santa Ana winds, it quickly spread to the city of Ventura, according to the federal InciWeb fire information website.
SANTA BARBARA, CA – DECEMBER 13: Fire, smoke, and ash from the Thomas Fire, currently burning in the hills above Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria along the eastern edges of the county, have driven away the tourists on December 13, 2017, in Santa Barbara, California. Because of its close proximity to Southern California and Los Angeles population centers, combined with a Mediterranean climate, the coastal regions of Santa Barbara have become a popular weekend getaway destination for millions of tourists each year. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
More than 1,000 structures have been damaged or destroyed in the fire, and another 18,000 structures are threatened, Cal Fire said. The cause is under investigation.

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