One Firefighter Killed Battling NorCal Wildfire

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 17, 2018

It is with deep sadness that CAL FIRE can confirm that this morning while battling the Ferguson Fire on the Sierra National Forest, CAL FIRE Heavy Fire Equipment Operator Braden Varney from the CAL FIRE Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit was tragically killed.

Varney was a CalFire heavy equipment operator.

The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. Friday night in Mariposa County, near the west end of Yosemite National Park and the Sierra National Forest.

Investigators were working to determine further circumstances surrounding Varney's death, but they believe he was working his way out of the fire area when he was killed, Koerperich said.

Evacuation advisories were extended to 15 miles southeast from the source of the fire, Savage's Trading Post on Highway 140.

Nine U.S. wildland firefighters had been killed up to Tuesday as the United States faced another extreme year for wildfires, according to National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) data.

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Power lines in the canyon that provide electric power to Yosemite Valley have been turned off for the safety of firefighters, said park spokeswoman Jamie Richards.

The wildfire is one of several burning across California and among 56 large blazes that are active in the US, most in the American West, a region that is struggling with drought and heat.

The fire began Friday evening. Varney had been with Cal Fire for a decade. He left behind a wife and two young children, according to the agency.

McLean said Varney's death is still under investigation.

One firefighter lost his life on Saturday morning and one of the main roads into Yosemite National Park, Highway 140, was closed.

United States wildfires have already burned more than 3.3million acres this year, which is more than the year-to-date average of about 3million acres in the past 10 years.

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