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Firefighter killed while fighting Thomas Fire in Southern California

Posted at 4:01 PM, Dec 14, 2017

(KGTV) - A firefighter with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) Cal has died battling one of the massive firefighters currently raging in California.

The firefighter, 32-year-old Corey Iverson, was a Cal Fire fire apparatus engineer from San Diego, died Thursday, according to Cal Fire Director Chief Ken Pimlott. Iverson had been with Cal Fire since 2009.

Iverson was assigned to the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbata Counties as part of a fire engine strike team from Cal Fire San Diego.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Thomas Fire, Skirball Fire, Creek Fire, Rye Fire, info and evacuations

The cause of the Iverson's death was not immediately released. Cal Fire has assigned a "serious accident review team" to look into the cause of death, Pimlott said in a press conference.

Ventura County sheriff's officials said Iverson suffered fatal injuries near the eastern flank of the Thomas Fire between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. PT Thursday, according to ABC's Los Angeles-affiliate KABC.

An earlier release from Pimlott read:

I am very saddened to report that a firefighter fatality has occurred on the Thomas Incident. The incident is still unfolding, but in this world of fast moving information, it is important to me that only factual information be shared. To that end, I can confirm a fatality of a CAL FIRE Engineer from the San Diego Unit has occurred. IMT 4, CAL FIRE Local 2881 and Southern Region leadership are working to support the Unit and his family, who have been notified.

More details will be made available as they are confirmed. In the meantime, please 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.

Iverson is survived by his wife and two-year-old daughter. His wife is currently expecting a second daughter this spring, according to Pimlott.

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The Thomas Fire has burned about 242,500 acres and is 30 percent contained, as of Thursday. Crews estimate 972 structures have been destroyed and 258 structures have been damaged.

The blaze sparked in Ventura County last week near Highway 150 and Highway 126, just north of Santa Paula.

RELATED: Thomas Fire grows, continues to threaten Ventura County residents and homes

The blaze is now the fourth-largest fire in California history.

Fire experts say California's fires are collectively burning an area larger than New York City and Boston combined.