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Firefighter killed while battling El Dorado fire is identified; ‘Charlie’ Morton called a respected leader

A crew boss with the Big Bear Hotshots has been identified as the firefighter who died Thursday while fighting the El Dorado wildfire, started by a smoke bomb ignited during a gender-reveal event in a Yucaipa park.

Charles Edward Morton, 39, died Thursday while battling the blaze in the San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino National Forest officials said. He had worked as a firefighter for 18 years, 14 with the U.S. Forest Service.

“Charlie was a well-respected leader who was always there for his squad and his crew at the toughest times,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen said in a statement.

“He will be missed,” the U.S. Hotshots Association said on social media.

Morton was born in San Diego, Forest Service officials said. He is survived by his wife, daughter, parents, two brothers, cousins and friends.

A social media post honored Charles Morton.

“This is my brother,” said one post on Facebook. “He died last night. Doing what he loves. Fighting fire in San Bernardino.”

The post was superimposed over a photo of a smiling Morton wearing a brown cap and brown jacket that reads, “Mill Creek Hotshots.” Smoke-covered mountains are in the background.

“My nephew Charlie Morton was a fabulous young man whom we are all so proud of, and it is an extreme loss to our California & Texas families,” wrote Sid Williams, who identified himself as Morton’s uncle in a Facebook posting. “He was on duty in the El Dorado fire in California.”

Almost all hotshot crew members are attached to the Forest Service, although some work for the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the National Park Service. Most of the 100-plus crews are based in the West. Crew members hike in or are lowered by helicopter into remote areas where they cut fire breaks with the tools that they carry.

Those who would like to extend their support to Morton’s family can send mail to P.O. Box 63564, Irvine, CA 92602.

Officials have not yet provided details on how Morton died.

Source: Orange County Register

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