YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — A firefighter was killed Saturday while battling a wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park, California state fire officials said.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Heavy Fire Equipment Operator Braden Varney was killed while fighting the Ferguson Fire in the morning hours.
The blaze broke out around 10:30 p.m. on Friday in Mariposa County, near the west end of Yosemite National Park and the Sierra National Forest.
Fire officials said it had burned about 150 acres by Saturday afternoon and was only five percent contained.
Varney, 36, is survived by his wife, Jessica, and two young children, 5-year-old daughter, Malhea, and 3-year-old son, Nolan.
The circumstances surrounding his death were not immediately released and officials said they were still working to confirm details.
"In the meantime, please join us in keeping Braden 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," California fire officials said in a statement.
Officials at Yosemite National Park said the wildfire had closed Highway 140 from Midpines to El Portal.
Power in Yosemite Valley had also been affected because power lines had been turned off while firefighters worked to quell the blaze.
Governor Jerry Brown issued the following statement:
"Anne and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Heavy Equipment Operator Braden Varney, a man who dedicated his life to protecting his fellow Californians. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and many colleagues who are mourning this sudden and tragic loss."
In Varney's honor, the governor also ordered Capitol flags to be flown at half-staff.
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
for more features.