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Firefighter dies, thousands more take California blaze

SANTA BARBARA, California. – One of the thousands of firefighters battling a series of wildfires in Southern California has died, but the authorities gave no hint of how.

San Diego-based Cory Iverson was assigned to the fire northwest of Los Angeles, which has become the fifth largest in the history of California. Iverson, 32, was an engineer with a state fire engine strike team. He died Thursday.

Dozens of police and fire vehicles escorted a hearse carrying Iverson’s flag-draped body to the county medical examiner’s office in Ventura.

Iverson had been with the state since 2009 and is survived by his pregnant wife and a 2-year-old daughter, said fire chief Ken Pimlott of the California Department of Forestry and fire protection.

It was the second death is linked to the fire. A 70-year-old woman was killed in a car accident while evacuating from the fire raged last week. Her body was found in the wrecked car along an evacuation route.

Pimlott does not provide any details about Iverson’s death, but said that it was investigated by an accident review team.

A return of gusty Santa Ana winds brought renewed activity to the parts of the so-called Thomas Brand, cross-border coastal Ventura and Santa Barbara county.

Pimlott said he was “deeply saddened” by Iverson ‘ s death, but added that the fire department were to continue to focus on their mission.

“The gunfight in front of us. The communities we are protecting are depending on us, and we will not fail,” he said at an afternoon press conference.

The authorities said that it now covers 379 square miles (982 square kilometers). More than a glow that burned in the interior of Santa Barbara County a decade ago.

Firefighting costs so far have been tallied in at $74.7 million, according to Cal Fire.

Some evacuations were lifted, and the risks for the agricultural town of Fillmore was on the decline. But the coastal enclaves to the west remained under threat as the crew protected hill homes in Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.

The National Weather Service said the extreme fire danger conditions could last through the weekend due to lack of moisture along with an expected increase in the wind speed.

Firefighters made some progress Wednesday on the control of the fire continued to spread, especially in national forest land.

Since the fire broke out on Dec. 4, it has been destroyed in 970 buildings — including at least 700 homes. Flames threatened some 18,000 buildings and prompted evacuations of about 100,000 people. With a surface area of more land than the city of San Diego, it was 35 percent contained.

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For complete coverage of the forest fires in California, click here: https://apnews.com/tag/Wildfires.

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