Fallen Calif.firefighter honored with highway dedication

A swath of Interstate 15 was dedicated in honor of Cory Iverson, a North County Cal Fire firefighter who died battling the Thomas Fire in 2017


Kristina Davis
The San Diego Union-Tribune

A swath of Interstate 15 that runs through Escondido was dedicated Saturday in honor of Cory Iverson, a North County Cal Fire firefighter who died battling the Thomas Fire in 2017.

“Corey Iverson is a hometown hero,” said California Assemblymember Marie Waldron, who started the effort to get the freeway naming approved by the Legislature.

(Photo/San Diego Regional Fire Foundation)
(Photo/San Diego Regional Fire Foundation)

Dozens of Cal Fire firefighters, Caltrans officials and family and friends gathered for the unveiling of the large green signs that will designate the stretch between Rancho Via Parkway and state Route 78 as the “Cal Fire Firefighter Cory Iverson Memorial Highway.”

“My hope is when drivers see this sign the memory of Cory will live on,” Waldron said during the gathering at the Del Lago Transit Station in Escondido.

Iverson’s widow, Ashley, who lives in Escondido with their two young daughters, thanked officials for their work on the signs.

“Cory did fulfill his destiny, and he is not finished,” she promised.

Iverson, 32, a fire apparatus engineer who was based Dulzura, was in Ventura County above the town of Fillmore when he was killed.

He and his crew were laying hose along a fire break on Dec. 14, 2017, when spot fires erupted and his escape route was cut off. He died of burns and smoke inhalation.

The site of his death is marked by a memorial, built and maintained by Ventura County firefighters.

The Thomas fire was the largest wildfire in California history, burning nearly 282,000 acres and destroying more than 1,000 structures. The fire also killed a Santa Paula resident.

Iverson’s wife was pregnant with their second child when he was killed.

She has started a foundation, the Iverson Foundation for Active Awareness, to provide mental health resources for first responders — her way of giving back to the firefighting community who helped her face her tragic loss.

As for the freeway memorial, Ashley had this advice: “So when you pass these signs, please do what he would do: smile.”

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©2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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