San Diego Firefighter, 32, Killed in Battle Against California's Fourth-Largest Fire - NBC Southern California
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Coverage of brush fires across the state

San Diego Firefighter, 32, Killed in Battle Against California's Fourth-Largest Fire

The fire is now larger than the monster 2007 Zaca fire, which also burned parts of Santa Barbara County



    Firefighter Dies Battling Thomas Fire

    A 32-year-old CalFire veteran died fighting the fourth largest fire in state history. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (Published Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017)

    What to Know

    • The blaze scorched 249,500 acres through its destructive path and is now 35 percent contained.

    • 930 buildings have been destroyed with at least 700 of them being homes.

    • Full containment is expected by Jan. 7, 2018.

    This article is no longer being updated. To get the latest information on the Thomas Fire, click here.

    A 32-year-old Cal Fire engineer from northern San Diego County was killed Thursday while fighting the massive Thomas Fire in Ventura County.

    Cory Iverson of Escondido died near Fillmore while helping battle the 10-day-old inferno, which has spread over about 242,500 acres and destroyed nearly 1,000 structures.

    Iverson, who leaves behind a pregnant wife and toddler daughter, had been with the state agency since 2009, according to Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott.

    Officials did not immediately disclose how Iverson died.

    "More details will be made available as they are confirmed," Pimlott said. "In the meantime, please join me in keeping our fallen firefighter and his loved ones in your prayers (and) all the responders on the front lines in your thoughts as they continue to work under extremely challenging conditions."

    Iverson, who was assigned to the Thomas Fire as part of a fire-engine strike team from Cal Fire's San Diego unit, is survived by his wife, Ashley; 2- year-old daughter, Evie; mother, Denise Butler; stepfather, Scott Butler; and father, Craig Iverson.

    "Cory and Ashley are expecting a second daughter this spring," Pimlott said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Cory's family and all of his friends and co-workers throughout the department and the fire service."

    Cal Fire has assigned an accident-review team to determine the circumstances and cause of the fatality, according to Pimlott, who added that "until this review is complete, there is nothing more I can share."

    "What I can say is a heartfelt and deep thank you for the outpouring of support for Cory's family and the Cal Fire family," the chief said.

    Watch: Dec. 14 Thomas Fire Flare-Up

    [LA] Watch: Dec. 14 Thomas Fire Flare-Up

    Burning for a 10th day in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, the 242,000-acre Thomas fire flared up Thursday Dec. 14, 2017 in the Fillmore area. Thick smoke plumes could be seen from NewsChopper4 at mid-day. 

    (Published Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017)

    Despite the traumatic loss, firefighting personnel "must keep our focus on the fire," Pimlott said. "The firefight in front of us continues to go on," he said.

    "The communities we are protecting are depending on us, and we will not fail."

    In a prepared statement, Gov. Jerry Brown expressed sorrow over Iverson's death.

    "His bravery and years of committed service to the people of California will never be forgotten," the governor stated.

    In Iverson's honor, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff. As of late this afternoon, the Thomas Fire, the fourth-largest blaze in California history, was roughly 30 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

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