Firefighter killed in massive California blaze

2017-12-15 11:36
Firefighters knock down flames as they advance on homes atop Shepherd Mesa Road in Carpinteria. (Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP, file)

Firefighters knock down flames as they advance on homes atop Shepherd Mesa Road in Carpinteria. (Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP, file)

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WATCH: Thomas Fire, now fifth-largest wildfire in California history, intensifies

2017-12-11 16:47

Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes as Thomas Fire tears through California, Santa Barbara and other regions. The destructive wild fire that ignited last Tuesday has damaged more than 800 buildings, killed two people and 35 horses. Watch. WATCH

Los Angeles - A firefighter was killed in one of the largest blazes in California's history, officials said on Thursday as emergency services spent another day struggling to contain infernos across the tinder-dry state.

San Diego-based Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson died fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, according to Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott, who gave no further details on the incident.

"I am very saddened to report that a firefighter fatality has occurred on the Thomas incident. Please join me in keeping our fallen firefighter and his loved ones in your prayers," he tweeted.

READ: Monster fire slows as California homeowners pick up pieces

The Thomas Fire has blackened almost 100 000ha since it broke out 10 days ago, Cal Fire said, making it the fourth-largest blaze in the state's history.

Thousands have had to evacuate and almost 1 000 buildings have been razed, most of them single-family houses, while another 18 000 are still seen as under threat.

Climate change

The only other victim so far is a 70-year-old woman who was in an accident as she fled in her car, and the blaze was considered 30% contained by Thursday, according to Cal Fire.

California's most devastating blaze remains the 2003's Cedar Fire, which scorched 110 000ha and destroyed almost 3 000 buildings.

This year is the worst on record for wildfire devastation, with more than 40 deaths and around 9 000 structures destroyed, following fires that ravaged the Napa and Sonoma wine region in the fall.

California governor Jerry Brown said on Tuesday wildfires ravaging his state should serve as a warning for other parts of the world threatened by climate change.

"The important fact is that these fires are going to become a very frequent occurrence, that's what the science is telling us," he said at the One Planet Summit in Paris, two years to the day after 195 nations signed an agreement to rein in global warming.

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