'One in a million:' Memorial service held for firefighter who died battling El Dorado Fire

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Saturday, September 26, 2020
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A procession was held to honor firefighter Charles Morton, who died while battling the El Dorado Fire burning in the San Bernardino National Forest.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Family, friends and colleagues gathered for a memorial service on Friday for the firefighter who died while battling the El Dorado Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Charles Morton, 39, was a Big Bear Interagency Hotshot squad boss who had served with the U.S. Forest for 14 years out of an 18-year firefighting career.

Morton's fiance, Monica, called him a leader, a protector and someone who gave wholeheartedly.

"I'm at peace because Charlie loved what he did, he loved his job, he loved being a hotshot firefighter. He loved being out in the wilderness, he loved his mountain," she said. "He loved fire. He loved fighting fire without water. He was one in a million."

Only a few dozen family members and other speakers were inside the church for the service in San Bernardino. Almost everyone else watched from an overflow area because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Firefighters and law enforcement from all across Southern California also saluted Morton.

"Charlie was one of those people that was just trusted by everyone. I believe it was because of his intelligence, his experience and confidence," one Forest Service colleague said during the service.

Morton was killed while conducting fire suppression on the blaze along Highway 38 near Angelus Oaks on Sept. 17. Additional details about what led up to his death have not been released.

The El Dorado Fire erupted Sept. 5, with officials linking the cause of the blaze to a pyrotechnic device used at a gender reveal party.