Almost 2,000 Ventura County, California, residents paid tribute Saturday to fallen firefighter Cory Iverson, who died on December 14 while fighting the Thomas fire.
Thirty-two-year-old Iverson died of burns and smoke inhalation.
According to VC Star, Iverson was born in Escondido and “rose through the ranks as a volunteer before being hired by Cal Fire’s Riverside unit in 2009.” Chief Tony Mecham said officials with the Riverside Unit recognized Iverson’s ability and selflessness and gave him a “helicopter position on a Hemet-Ryan crew,” which means he was part of a helitack team that was dropped into hot areas to attack fires.
Mecham said Iverson “lost his life for one very simple reason: He put others first.”
Iverson “is survived by his pregnant wife, Ashley, and their 2-year-old daughter, Evie.”
Ashley explained that she spent one of her last conversations with Iverson expressing fears about his safety. She spoke at her late husband’s memorial. The Los Angeles Times quoted her saying, “My sweet husband left this earth not as a hero but in my eyes he left as a superhero, a superhero that has given me the platform to make that difference. So today I will make one more vow to you, my love. I vow to make you proud. I am no longer a slave to fear.”
There will be a permanent memorial to Iverson, but Chief Mecham said it is too early to discuss specifics about it.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the benefit of Ashley, Evie, and the coming child, with a goal of $1,000,000. The fund has already topped $400,000.
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