A firefighter died amid the ongoing battle against the El Dorado Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest, U.S. Forest Service officials confirmed Friday morning.
As a tribute to the fallen firefighter, officials drove in a procession of about a dozen of so patrol vehicles along Highway 38 later Friday. No details have been released about the cause of death.
Law enforcement and fire crews began searching on Thursday night for a missing crew member near Pinezanita, which is northeast of Angelus Oaks, SoCal Air Operations tweeted about 10:30 p.m.
Forest Service officials later confirmed the fatality was related to the search, and said the “incident” took place Thursday.
“Yes, it is related to the search and rescue last night, but I cannot confirm the position or agency. More details will be announced as they are made available,” a Forest Service spokesperson stated.
The El Dorado Fire was sparked Sept. 5 by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used at a gender-reveal party at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa.
The wildfire had burned 21,678 acres and was 66% contained as of Friday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s incident website. Four homes have been destroyed and two damaged, and several other structures have likewise been affected. More than 26,000 structures remain threatened.
The blaze was active Thursday night and burned into Angeles Oaks, with spotting within that mountain community. Fire crews were able to defend homes and structures and put out the spotting.
The fire also burned along Highway 38 in Pinezanita, and crews defended structures there and in the Jenks Lake area. Embers cast onto the north side of Highway 38 were quickly extinguished by ground crews, according to a Forest Service update.
Fire embers were cast across Hwy 38 and quickly extinguished by ground crews directly attacking the fire with hose lines
More than 1,350 firefighters are working on the El Dorado Fire.
The fire has progressed to the Lake Fire scar and continues to make active runs to the north as topography and upcanyon wind influences comes into alignment. Fire is spotting ½ mile ahead of the main body of fire and has a potential for spotting up to 1 mile this afternoon.