Firefighter who died battling Calif. wildfire sparked by gender-reveal celebration now identified

Charles Morton died while battling the El Dorado Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest

Duty Death: Charles Morton - [Fawnskin, California]

End of Service: 09/18/2020


Update Sept. 22, 2020: The firefighter who was killed battling the El Dorado Fire has been identified as Firefighter Charles Morton, 39, who was serving as squad boss on the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. The Big Bear Hotshots are local to the San Bernardino National Forest, the USFA said. 

“Charlie was a well-respected leader who was always there for his squad and his crew at the toughest times,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “Our hearts go out to Charlie’s loved ones, coworkers, friends and the Big Bear Hotshots. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.”

Original report:

A firefighter has died battling the El Dorado Fire at San Bernardino National Forest, which was sparked when a couple used a pyrotechnic device to reveal their baby's gender. (Photo/U.S. Forest Service)
A firefighter has died battling the El Dorado Fire at San Bernardino National Forest, which was sparked when a couple used a pyrotechnic device to reveal their baby's gender. (Photo/U.S. Forest Service)

Associated Press

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A firefighter died battling a wildfire in California that officials said was sparked by a device used to reveal a baby's gender.

The death occurred Thursday in the San Bernardino National Forest as crews battled the El Dorado Fire, the U.S. Forest Service said in a news release.

The El Dorado Fire erupted earlier this month from a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device was used by a couple to reveal their baby’s gender, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said.

The name of the firefighter was being withheld until family members are notified. The cause of the death was under investigation.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the family, friends and fellow firefighters during this time,” spokesperson Zach Behrens said in the release.

The wildfire has burned more than 19,000 acres (7,700 hectares) and was about 66% contained, according to Cal Fire.

Wildfires have burned more than 3 million acres in California this year and are blamed for at least 25 deaths.

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