Firefighters mourn one of their own as destructive Thomas Fire rages on

SAN DIEGO -- A multi-county funeral procession was held Sunday for San Diego firefighter Cory Iverson, who died battling the Thomas Fire, CBS Los Angeles reports. The Ventura County Medical Examiner said Iverson died of burns and smoke inhalation.

The 32-year-old died Thursday as a strike team faced down flames near Fillmore.

An accident review team is investigating the incident.

Iverson had worked for Cal Fire since 2009. He leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter and a pregnant wife.

That procession began at 10 a.m. local time on the 101 Freeway in Ventura County. It then headed into LA County, continuing into San Bernardino County, and then made a short stop in Chino. Around 12:30 p.m., the procession moved into Riverside County.

CBS News' Carter Evans reports that first responders lined streets and bridges as Iverson's body was brought back to his hometown of San Diego around 2 p.m. local time. It was a grim reminder of the sacrifices made as thousands continue to battle the Thomas Fire.


Cory Iverson

CBS News

"It's just tough to talk about because number one, he was really young. And he's got a wife and a 2-year-old and she's pregnant with his second," said Bruce Cartelli, retired San Diego Fire Chief.

Many are calling Iverson a hero.

"With Cory, they said, he got his guys out first.  And he didn't get out. So [he was] the captain of the ship," said Cartelli.

Many of the firefighters came to show the family support at this difficult time.

"Hopefully, the family will see us and know that they're not alone and have a lot of prayers and support coming their way," said mourner Bob Goodwin.

Many of the mourners said they were also there to show support for the crews still battling the fire.

"These guys have to push forward knowing that one of their brothers has fallen. They have to continue to do their job and serve our community and public well," said Sarah Ramos-Evinger.

Evans reports that the Thomas Fire is California's third largest in state history and has destroyed more than 700 homes. Over the last two weeks the blaze scorched more than 400 square miles.

Even though firefighters now finding relief with calmer winds -- so far it's cost more than $117 million to fight the Thomas Fire -- and it could be weeks before it's completely out, Evans reports.