Firefighter dies as thousands battle California wildfires

Los Angeles: A firefighter died while battling one of the 18 large wildfires raging in California, its governor said, declaring a state of emergency.


About 8,000 firefighters have been deployed across the state, said the California National Guard, which has been called into action.

“California’s severe drought and extreme weather have turned much of the state into a tinderbox,” California Governor Edmund Brown said in a statement.

“Our courageous firefighters are on the front lines and we’ll do everything we can to help them.”

The dead firefighter was named as Dave Ruhl, 38, from South Dakota, who was killed Thursday while fighting the Frog Fire in the Modoc National Forest outside Alturas.

“Firefighter Ruhl will be remembered for his service and bravery and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues with the US Forest Service,” Brown said in a separate statement.

Wildfires are a fact of life in much of California, but they have been exacerbated by bone-dry conditions as the western US state is gripped by a fourth year of record drought.