One Firefighter Killed Battling NorCal Wildfire

Firefighter dies while battling Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County

- A firefighter has been killed while fighting a wildfire near Yosemite National Park, Cal Fire reported on Saturday.

Cal Fire said he leaves behind a wife and two children.

The circumstances surrounding his death were not immediately released and officials said they were still working to confirm details.

"Anne and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Heavy Equipment Operator Braden Varney, a man who dedicated his life to protecting his fellow Californians".

No memorial service plans are available at this time. Fire officials say that number may be much higher, but they can not safely fly to get an accurate survey because of smoky conditions "We all know the world of firefighting it is a hard job it's a risky job", Cal Fire Unit Chief Nancy Corprich said.

According to The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, California has had its worst start to the fire season in a decade, with more than 220,421 acres burned so far.

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.

Koerperich says he'd been working since the fire broke out Friday night and was making his way out of the fire area when he was fatally injured.

Evacuations also were ordered in rural communities just outside the park, and people in nearby lodges and motels were told to be ready to leave if flames approach. He had been with Cal Fire for more than 10 years.

Fire crews watching the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County on Saturday. It ignited around 10:35 p.m. Friday and had grown to 1,000 acres with 5 percent containment, according to the latest official update provided at 10 p.m. Saturday by the Sierra National Forest.

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

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