SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – The widow of a Cal Fire engineer killed while battling the Thomas Fire in Ventura County on Thursday shared her story with News 8.
At the time of her husband’s death, Ashley Iverson learned she was pregnant with their second child.
Ashley opened up to News 8 about how the loss of her husband, Cory Iverson, has impacted her life and her hopes for the future.
The 32-year-old firefighter suffered burns and smoke inhalation near Fillmore while helping battle the Thomas Fire, which spread over 273,400 acres, destroyed more than 1,000 structures and led to two fatalities in the Santa Paula area.
Iverson was assigned to the Ventura-area inferno as part of a fire-engine strike team from Cal Fire's San Diego unit.
Ashley said she has spent the months since Cory's death laying the groundwork for a foundation in his name.
"I have to make him proud because he made me the most proud wife anyone could hope to be. He gave me this platform to make a difference," she said.
The Iverson family has put together a foundation called, Iverson Foundation for Active Awareness, (IFAA). Its focus will be to create awareness on mental health and encouraging firefighters and other first responders to take time to heal themselves after saving others.
"What I am hoping to do is change the culture that it is okay for these men and women to sit together to heal and bring the darkness to light," she said.
The family asked anyone interested in donating to the San Diego Fire Foundation can specific they want their money to go to the IFAA.
Ashley is two weeks from delivering her daughter, Taylor. She recently posted maternity pictures online and the photographer who took the maternity pictures will be donating all proceeds from the month of May to the IFAA.
Ashley has received support from regional firefighting groups who have helped her clear legal hurdles to get the foundation off the ground - all while keeping Cory close to her heart and by her side.