Texas firefighter killed while battling huge blaze in Mendocino National Forest
The California Highway Patrol is investigating the death of a Texas firefighter killed Monday in a vehicle collision while helping battle a complex of wildfires that has burned a quarter-million acres in the Mendocino National Forest.
Diana Jones, 63, a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician from Cresson, Texas, who was working for a private contractor on the August Complex fires, died in the incident.
Jones served in the fire agency in Cresson, a town of 1,000 people about 25 miles southwest of downtown Fort Worth.
The U.S. Forest Service said Jones and two other firefighters were working on the Tatham Fire, within the August Complex and about 50 miles southwest of Redding, when the incident occurred. A second firefighter was injured and is receiving medical treatment for burns, while the third firefighter received no injuries.
Jones had been working as an engine boss for K&L Fire of Summerville, Oregon, and based on social media posts appeared to have been assigned to the August Complex since at least Aug. 20. K&L’s Facebook page says it has contracts to provide wildland fire engines. K&L declined to comment when contacted Tuesday.
Jones’ death marks the second fatality among first responders helping battle wildfires in California since mid-August when thousands of lightning strikes ignited hundreds of blazes around the state.
The other was also a firefighting contractor: Michael John Fournier, 52, of Rancho Cucamonga, a helicopter pilot killed while fighting a wildfire near the Fresno County town of Coalinga.
Along with the CHP, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident, according to a Department of Labor spokesman.