Firefighter dies while battling Thomas fire in California

PHOTO: CalFire works in Ventura County as efforts continue against the Thomas Fire in Ojai, Calif., Dec. 9, 2017. PlayJohn Cetrino/EPA
WATCH Firefighter dies while battling California wildfire

A California firefighter has died while battling the Thomas fire that is threatening the Golden State's Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, officials said.

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The firefighter was an engineer with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection from San Diego, said Cal Fire director Chief Ken Pimlott in a press release Thursday.

SLIDESHOW: Photos: Wildfires continue to rage across Southern California

Authorities identified him as Cory Iverson, 32, of Escondido, California, and said he had a 2-year-old daughter and his wife, Ashley, is currently pregnant.

He was an eight-year-veteran for Cal Fire.

Tony Mecham of Cal Fire San Diego said he had "very limited" details on how he died, but said he was "outside the fire engine" at the time of the accident. Mecham said Iverson and his five-firefighter strike team were engaged with a very active part of the fire near Fillmore, California, when the accident occurred.

"... [P]lease join me in keeping our fallen firefighter and his loved ones in your prayers all the responders on the front lines in your thoughts as they continue to work under extremely challenging conditions," Pimlott said.

PHOTO: Firefighters watch for embers crossing over the road early Thursday morning, Dec. 14, 2017 at the Thomas Fire during a firing operation in the hills above Los Padres National Forest, Calif.
<p itemprop= " onerror="this.src='http://a.abcnews.com/images/US/palley-wildfires-3-ht-jt-171215_4x3_992.jpg'" />Stuart Palley for ABC News
Firefighters watch for embers crossing over the road early Thursday morning, Dec. 14, 2017 at the Thomas Fire during a firing operation in the hills above Los Padres National Forest, Calif.

PHOTO: U.S. forest fire crews fight fire with fire as they set off huge backfires to cut off the northern flank of the Thomas fire near Rose Valley recreation area in Los Padres National Forest in California, Dec. 9, 2017.Gene Blevins/Polaris
U.S. forest fire crews fight fire with fire as they set off huge backfires to cut off the northern flank of the Thomas fire near Rose Valley recreation area in Los Padres National Forest in California, Dec. 9, 2017.

"Anne and I are saddened by Engineer Cory Iverson’s tragic death," California Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement, also passing along the condolence of his wife. "His bravery and years of committed service to the people of California will never be forgotten.”

As many as six wildfires were blazing through California's arid landscape last week. The Thomas fire, the largest of them, began as a 50-acre brush fire in the foothills of Santa Paula on Dec. 4, officials said.

PHOTO: Firefighters battle flames on State Route 150 between Carpinteria and Ojai Calif., Dec. 11, 2017. Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic/USA Today
Firefighters battle flames on State Route 150 between Carpinteria and Ojai Calif., Dec. 11, 2017.

The Thomas fire was 35 percent contained by Thursday evening after burning through about 249,5000 acres. A total of 8,300 fire personnel are battling the Thomas fire, which is currently threatening at least 18,000 structures, according to Cal Fire. Chief Todd Durum from Cal Fire said the fire had cost $82 million so far.

PHOTO: A Los Angeles County Fire helicopter flies over the Skirball Fire which began early morning in Bel-Air, Calif., Dec. 6, 2017.John Cetrino/EPA
A Los Angeles County Fire helicopter flies over the Skirball Fire which began early morning in Bel-Air, Calif., Dec. 6, 2017.

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