Yesterday, the Thomas fire in California took another devastating turn, taking the life of a young firefighter from San Diego. The firefighter was identified as 32-year-old Cory Iverson, a San Diego Unit Fire Apparatus Engineer. This tragic news marks the fire’s first casualty.
According to Cal Fire Director Chief Ken Pimlott, Iverson was married and had a two-year-old daughter. Iverson’s wife, Ashley, is currently pregnant with their second daughter. He had been working for the department since 2009, and been fighting the Thomas fire since it began on December 4th. Ventura County sheriff officials say he suffered fatal injuries near the eastern flank of the fire on Thursday morning. There is currently an investigation underway regarding the circumstances of his death, so details are still scarce.
Firetrucks lined bridges above the freeway as Iverson’s body was transported by motorcade to the Ventura County Coroner’s Office, and an honorary procession was held. California governor Jerry Brown ordered Capitol flags to be flown at half-staff to honor the fallen fire fighter.
The Thomas fire began as a brushfire in the city of Santa Paula, just north of Los Angeles. Because of strong winds, the fire has only continued to grow since then, with experts saying there is “no end in sight.” Cal Fire says that the Thomas fire has currently consumed 249,500 acres since it began. It is now the fourth-largest wildfire in California history, and was 35 percent contained as of December 14th. The LA Times reports that strong Santa Ana and sundowner winds will hit the area this weekend, potentially making things even worse.
We can only hope that the fires end soon, and our thoughts are with all of Iverson’s loved ones today.