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Firefighter Killed In California Wildfire

David Ruhl died fighting a blaze in far Northern California. It is among dozens of fires burning across the West.

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A firefighter died while battling a blaze near Adin, California, officials reported Friday.

The firefighter — identified as David Ruhl — died while battling the Frog Fire, which as of Friday evening had grown to more than 800 acres in far northern California. Searchers found Ruhl's body Friday morning after he went missing the day before.

"This loss of life is tragic and heartbreaking," Forest Supervisor Amanda McAdams said in a statement.

National Forest Service spokesman Ken Sandusky told the Associated Press Ruhl was driving and "trying to develop a plan of attack" when the fire suddenly trapped him Thursday.

Ruhl's cause of death remained under investigation.

He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Ruhl was from Rapid City, South Dakota, and according to his Facebook page previously served in the U.S. Coast Guard.


Ruhl was on temporary assignment in California when he died. His base was the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest in Rapid City, where he served as an engine captain.

Scott Jacobson, a co-worker and National Forest spokesman in South Dakota, told the AP Ruhl was easygoing and humble. He had volunteered to work in California to get more experience.

"He was just always eager to get out and about and work with people," Jacobson said.

Gov. Jerry Brown lamented Ruhl's death in a statement Friday.

"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," Brown said.

Wildfires have wrecked havoc in California this week, destroying several homes and prompting Gov. Brown to declare a state of emergency.

As of Friday night, Cal Fire had listed 25 "fires of interest" across the state. Collectively, the fires have charred tens of thousands of acres.


The largest of the many blazes was the Rocky Ridge fire, which alone had burned more than 18,000 acres and destroyed multiple buildings. That fire was only 5% contained Friday night.

Photos from the various fires showed burned hills and massive efforts to contain the flames.


Wildfires also burned large swaths of land in other western states this week.

Blazes swept through Utah, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and other states.

The fires have erupted as summer temperatures intensify. The West is also suffering from a record-breaking, multi-year drought that has exacerbated wildfire conditions.

Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jim Dalrymple II at

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