A U.S. Forest Service firefighter has been found dead while on assignment battling a wildfire in the Modoc National Forest, according to officials.
David “Dave” Ruhl, 38, was at the Frog Fire burning outside Alturas, California.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, Ruhl was found deceased Friday morning. Search and rescue had been conducted throughout the night.
Ruhl's permanent position is Engine Captain with the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest in Rapid City. He was on temporary assignment to the Big Valley Ranger District of the Modoc National Forest as an Assistant Fire Management Officer since June 14.
Ruhl's death is under investigation.
“This loss of life is tragic and heartbreaking,” says Forest Supervisor Amanda McAdams in a statement. “Please keep the family and all of our Forest Service employees in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
The Frog Fire southeast of Lava Camp on the Big Valley Ranger District started Thursday afternoon and has grown to more than 800 acres by Friday evening.
Gov. Jerry Brown released the following statement:
“Anne and I were saddened to learn of the tragic death of U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Dave Ruhl, who left his home state to help protect one of California’s majestic forests. Firefighter Ruhl will be remembered for his service and bravery and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues with the U.S. Forest Service.”
Ruhl is survived by his wife and their two children. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 14 years and previously served in the U.S. Coast Guard, according to Brown's statement.