A firefighter was killed battling the monstrous Thomas Fire in Southern California, officials said on Thursday. The unnamed man was an engineer with Cal Fire and based in San Diego.
“I am very saddened to report that a firefighter fatality has occurred on the Thomas Incident,” Chief Ken Pimlott, director of Cal Fire, said in a statement. “Please join me in keeping our fallen firefighter 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.”
Pimlott said the man’s family and his unit had been notified.
I am very saddened to report that a firefighter fatality has occurred on the Thomas Incident. Please join me in keeping our fallen firefighter and his loved ones in your prayers. - @CALFIRE_CHIEFhttps://t.co/lJjvOddchSpic.twitter.com/zylqSlsj3K
— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) December 14, 2017
The Thomas Fire, a behemoth that has scorched some 242,500 acres over the past week, quickly became the fourth-largest fire in California state history. Fire officials initially struggled to contain the blaze as it was spurred on by ferocious winds. As of Wednesday morning, it had reached 30 percent containment, with officials expecting to have the fire fully contained by early January.
More than 8,000 firefighters were dispatched to fight the Thomas Fire, including 1,200 from other states, but the resurgence in strong winds had officials worried the blaze could gain new life on Thursday.
Around 18,000 structures are still under threat from the flames, and nearly 1,000 have already been destroyed.
The National Weather Service had a Red Flag Warning in effect for much of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties through Friday morning, warning that some areas could see gusts up to 55 mph.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.