California wildfires expand after death of firefighter

August 2, 2015 00:55

Firefighters rushed to contain a pair of fast-moving wildfires in Northern California on Saturday as they mourned the death of a US Forest Service firefighter killed this week in the battle against one of the blazes, officials said.

The largest blaze has forced hundreds of people to evacuate and destroyed more than a dozen homes. Experts have predicted a long and volatile summer wildfire season in California in its fourth year of crippling drought.

Firefighter David Ruhl, 38, a married father of two from Rapid City, South Dakota, died on Thursday while on assignment at the Frog Fire in the Modoc National Forest near California's border with Oregon.

No one else was with Ruhl when he was killed, and he was the incident commander on the fire at the time, said Modoc National Forest spokesman Ken Sandusky. It is common for a leader on a fire to travel alone, Sandusky said, but he declined to release more details on the death.

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