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Off-Duty US Forest Service Firefighter Reported Missing

SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) — The public's help is needed to find a U.S. Forest Service firefighter who was reported missing earlier this week.

carlos baltazar
(credit: San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)

Carlos Alexander Baltazar, 35, was reported missing by his family Thursday. His vehicle was found Sunday by the California Highway Patrol on Highway 18 and Delta Avenue with some damage to the front.

Authorities have searched the area from the ground, with a K9, and from the air, and Baltazar's backpack was found 75 yards from where his vehicle was located. K9's continued to track Baltazar's scent, but eventually lost it, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

"Just don't stop searching for my brother," Veronica Baltazar said Friday. "We just want him home really bad, we really do."

Baltazar is part of the U.S. Forest Service Interagency Hotshot Crew, and was not in the area of the El Dorado Fire and was off-duty at the time he went missing.

He is described as a 5-foot-9, 175-pound Hispanic bald man with brown eyes.

Baltazar is the second US Forest Service firefighter to go missing in as many weeks. Big Bear Interagency Hot Shot Squad Boss Charles Edward Morton was laid to rest today, after he went missing last week and was subsequently found dead.

"He had mentioned that he felt like he could have done more, that he felt like maybe it was even his fault," Veronica said.

Melinda Herrera, Baltazar's niece, said she tried to talk with her uncle about coping with the loss of his colleague.

"I grew up with him, so I see him as an older brother," she said. "He just kept saying that we wouldn't understand and that there was no point in telling us because we didn't understand what him and his crew went through."

Melinda was the last person to see Baltazar. She said he called her on Sunday near his mother's San Bernardino home after his car battery died. She said a friend came over to give him a jump and then he headed up Highway 18 to be with his fellow firefighters in Big Bear.

"I hugged him and then I told him to text me when he got there, and he just never texted me," she said.

Anyone with information who may have seen Baltazar or knows his location can contact San Bernardino County sheriff's Dispatch at (760) 956-5001.

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