SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. — Family and friends Friday honored firefighter and San Diego native Charles Morton, who died last week battling the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino.
The San Bernardino National Forest said Morton was a Squad Boss for its Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew. According to the agency, Morton was born in San Diego in 1981.
“Charlie was a well-respected leader who was always there for his squad and his crew at the toughest times,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “Our hearts go out to Charlie’s loved ones, coworkers, friends and the Big Bear Hotshots. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.”
Morton's death occurred Thursday in the San Bernardino National Forest as crews battled El Dorado Fire which was sparked by a device used to reveal a baby's gender, according to authorities.
Morton started his career in 2002 with the California Conservation Corps at the Butte Fire Center before moving to the 2006 fire season with Firestorm Fire Suppression in Chico, according to SBNF.
He started his 14-year Forest Service career in 2006 with the Truckee Interagency Hotshots on the Tahoe National Forest. Morton joined the San Bernardino National Forest in 2007 and worked on the Front Country and Mountaintop Ranger Districts, for the Mill Creek Interagency Hotshots, Engine 31, Engine 19, and the Big Bear Interagency Hotshots,
Morton's family shared a statement through the SBNF agency that read:
“Charlie is survived by his wife and daughter, his parents, two brothers, cousins, and friends. He’s loved and will be missed. May he rest easy in heaven with his baby boy.”
The El Dorado Fire erupted earlier this month from a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said.
The cause of Morton's death was under investigation.
As of Friday, the wildfire had burned more than 22,600 and was about 81% contained, according to Cal Fire.