REDDING, Calif. -- A seventh death has been reported in the battle against the Carr Fire.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company is mourning the loss of one of its linemen, who was killed in Shasta County. Jairus Ayeta, 21, was on duty when the utility says he was involved in a vehicle accident.
Friends said Ayeta, who everyone called Jay, loved his job working for PG&E. They say he knew the risks of his job but he was dedicated to helping others.
PG&E said Ayeta was working near the scene of the Carr Fire in rural Shasta County when tragedy struck.
"They were working in dangerous terrain, performing electric power restoration work, when he suffered fatal injuries associated with a vehicle accident," said company spokesperson Melissa Subbotin.
Ayeta was an apprentice lineman who had worked for the company for two years. A native of Uganda, he moved to Santa Rosa with his family several years ago.
His cousin, Judith, told ABC sister station KGO-TV by phone how proud she was of him.
"I was proud, I was so optimistic when he graduated. When he got a job, bought a house, it seemed like he was really doing good," she said.
A GoFundMe page was established by friends to help Ayeta's family with expenses during this difficult time.
Click here to make a donation to the GoFundMe page.
"Safety of our employees and customers is PG&E's top priority," a PG&E spokesperson said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with our fallen team member, their family, and our extended team. We are working with law enforcement to investigate the circumstances of the incident."
President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for California. The declaration will help fire victims with unemployment assistance, food aid and legal and mental health counseling among other federal programs.
The Carr Fire has destroyed more than 1,000 homes in and around Redding. The massive wildfire has grown to 154,524 acres and is 41 percent contained.