A heroic firefighter helping fight the enormous Thomas Fire raging through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in California died Thursday; the first firefighter killed while battling one of the top five fires in California history.
Fire apparatus engineer Cory Iverson, 32, the father of a two year-old-daughter and whose wife Ashley is pregnant with their second child, had worked for CalFires’ San Diego Unit as a member of a fire strike team, according to Chief Ken Pimlott. Iverson had worked with CalFire since 2009.
Pimlott stated, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Corey's family and all of his friends and coworkers," adding that a serious accident review team would investigate what caused Iverson's death. He concluded, "Until this review is complete, there is nothing more I can share.”
Chief Tony Mecham, of the San Diego County Fire Dept., said, “Corey is just a great young man and he was somebody who just really loved his job. What really hit all of us today is that normally this time of year we’re supposed to be slowing down and spending time with our families.”
At roughly 3 p.m on Thursday firefighters and citizens saluted Iverson’s hearse, as it was draped with the American Flag.
The Thomas Fire, which started December 4, is still only 35% contained, according to Cal Fire; it has roamed over 249,500 acres of California. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.
Fire authorities believe the fire will not be contained until January 7; over 8,000 firefighters are battling the blaze.