Big Bear

‘We Just Want My Brother Home': Family Searches for Hotshot Firefighter

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The search continued for a missing off-duty hotshot firefighter Saturday, a day after his squad leader was laid to rest.

Carlos Baltazar, 35, has been missing since Sunday and his family says they just want answers.

Baltazar's niece says she was the last person in their family to see him.

It was Sunday and she helped jump his car and he told her he was on his way back to Big Bear for a meeting with his hotshot crew.

Since that night he hasn't answered his phone, which they say is completely out of character.

"I don't know what happened with my son," said Maria Baltazar, the firefighter's mom.

His mother, niece and sister say they reported him missing Thursday after he didn't show up to work.

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Rescuers searched for him from the ground using bloodhounds and from the air. K9's tracked his scent but lost it.

On Saturday, two dogs were used as part of the search and the search was set to continue through the night using aerial support from the sheriff's department, officials said. Baltazar was still missing as of Saturday evening.

His family says they found his backpack 75 yards from his abandoned vehicle on Highway 18 and Delta Avenue with his wallet left in the car.

The sheriff's department says there's no indication of foul play.

"It's not just like him," said Melinda Herrera, his niece. "His faith in God is really strong. So for him to do anything to himself, it wouldn't make sense."

But they say the last time they spoke to him he was grieving. He's part of the Big Bear United States Forest Service Interagency hotshot crew.

The same tight-knit group of firefighters on Friday mourned the death of squad boss Charlie Morton, who died while fighting the El Dorado Fire.

"I know they all played a role in recovering Charlie," said Veronica Baltazar, his sister. "That did impact him a lot."

Morton's death weighed heavily on him.

His family is fearing the worst and asking anyone who may have seen something to help them find answers.

"We just want my brother home," Veronica said.

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