Firefighter Cory Iverson, 32 died Thursday while fighting the deadly Thomas fire, which is raging across Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in Southern California.
He is the first firefighter to die in the latest outbreak of wildfires, and the second fatality overall, after a civilian died in a car addict while evacuating the area.
The Associated Press reports:
Cory Iverson was an engineer with a state fire engine strike team based in San Diego. Iverson, 32, is survived by his pregnant wife and a 2-year-old daughter, said Fire Chief Ken Pimlott of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Iverson had been with the state since 2009.
Pimlott did not provide any details about the death but said it was under investigation by an accident review team.
On Thursday afternoon, dozens of police and fire vehicles escorted a hearse carrying Iverson’s flag-draped body to the county medical examiner’s office in Ventura.
The Thomas fire officially became the fourth-largest in California’s recorded history on Thursday. It has burned 379 square miles and is closing in on 250,000 acres, and is only partially contained.
Firefighters from across the state, and even from outside the state, are in a desperate race against time to complete containment lines to prevent the fire from reaching metropolitan areas around Santa Barbara before high winds return on Friday evening.
One reason the Thomas fire has been so difficult to stop is that it is burning across steep terrain, where containment lines are difficult to establish, and where canyons frustrate efforts to drop fire retardant from the air.
The Santa Barbara area is also the one part of the Golden State that did not recover significantly from a crippling five-year drought with last winter’s heavy rains.
Listen to Joel Pollak’s tribute to Cory Iverson and the California firefighters from Thursday’s edition of Breitbart News Tonight on SiriusXM:
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.