Firefighters on the line at the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. Courtesy U.S. Forest Service

Updated Dec. 14, 2017 at 5:16 p.m.

A Cal Fire engineer from the San Diego area was killed while fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, the chief of the state agency announced Thursday.

Cory Iverson, 32, leaves behind a pregnant wife and toddler daughter. He had been with the state agency since 2009, according to Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott.

Officials did not immediately disclose how or when Iverson died.

“More details will be made available as they are confirmed,” Pimlott said. “In the meantime, please join me in keeping our fallen firefighter and his loved ones in your prayers (and) all the responders on the front lines in your thoughts as they continue to work under extremely challenging conditions.”

Iverson, who was assigned to the Thomas Fire as part of a fire-engine strike team from Cal Fire’s San Diego unit, is survived by his wife, Ashley, and his 2-year-old daughter, Evie.

“Cory and Ashley are expecting a second daughter this spring,” Pimlott said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Cory’s family and all of his friends and co-workers throughout the department and the fire service.”

Cal Fire has assigned an accident-review team to determine the circumstances and cause of the fatality, according to Pimlott, who added that “until this review is complete, there is nothing more I can share.”

“What I can say is a heartfelt and deep thank you for the outpouring of support for Cory’s family and the Cal Fire family,” the chief said.

Despite the traumatic loss off a valued colleague, firefighting personnel “must keep our focus on the fire,” Pimlott said.

“The firefight in front of us continues to go on,” he said. “The communities we are protecting are depending on us, and we will not fail.”

The Thomas Fire has charred about 242,500 acres and destroyed nearly 1,000 structures since erupting north of Santa Paula 10 days ago, making it the fourth largest blaze in California history. It was roughly 30 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon, according to Cal Fire.

–City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.