A squad boss for the Big Bear Hotshot Crew of firefighters has died while battling a fire in the San Bernardino National Forest.
According to the story appearing on the KTLA website, U. S. Forestry Service Official, Vicki Christiansen said in a statement that 39-year-old Charles Morton died on Thursday, September 17th, while battling the El Dorado Fire.
“Charlie was a well-respected leader who was always there for his squad and his crew at the toughest times,” Christiansen said.
Morton is survived by his wife and daughter, his parents, two brothers, and several cousins.
His family released a statement via the U.S. Forestry Service:
“He’s loved and will be missed. May he rest easy in heaven with his baby boy.”
Morton was born and raised in California and had been a member of the U.S. Forestry Service for 14 years. He began his firefighting career as a corpsman in the Butte Fire Center in Magalia. In the fire season of 2006, he became involved with the Firestorm Fire Suppression in Chico. Later that same year, Morton joined the Truckee Interagency Hotshots in the Tahoe National Forest. In 2007, Morton transferred to the Big Bear Hotshot Crew in San Bernardino.
The fire, triggered by a pyrotechnic device from a gender reveal party, has consumed more than 22,558 acres so far.
Officials confirmed that Morton and other fire crew members searched for a missing fellow crewmember near Pinezanita on September 17th. Officials confirm that Morton’s death is related to the search, but provided no further details at the time of the report.