Cal Fire San Diego Unit Fire Apparatus Engineer Cory Iverson died from thermal injuries and smoke inhalation, an autopsy performed Friday found, according to the Ventura County Medical Examiner Office.
Ventura County sheriff's officials said the firefighter suffered fatal injuries near the eastern flank of the fire sometime between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Thursday. The department's major crimes division was investigating the death.
Iverson was 32 years old and is survived by his wife, Ashley, and 2-year-old daughter Evie. Iverson's wife is currently expecting their second daughter, Cal Fire Director Chief Ken Pimlott said.
Iverson had been with Cal Fire since 2009.
"While we continue to process this tragic loss, we must keep our focus on the fire," Pimlott said. "The firefight in front of us continues to go on. The communities we are protecting are depending on us, and we will not fail."
Pimlott said Cal Fire has initiated a serious accident review team to look into Iverson's death. Pimlott said no further information could be shared until the investigation was complete.
Cal Fire San Diego Chief Tony Mecham's voice was heavy with emotion as he spoke of Iverson Thursday after his death.
"Cory's just a great young man, and, you know, he's a great young man. He's somebody who loved this job. He took great pride in wearing the Cal Fire patch. He was an extraordinary firefighter," Mecham said.
Dozens of fellow firefighters lined up in Fillmore to honor Iverson in a procession. Engines lined bridges above the freeway where Iverson's body was being transported from the Fillmore area to the Ventura County Coroner's Office.
Iverson had been fighting the Thomas Fire since it first erupted.
According to Cal Fire, the Thomas Fire has scorched 259,000 acres since it broke out Dec. 4.
The colossal blaze, which straddles coastal Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, was 40 percent contained as of Saturday morning.
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_CHIEF https://t.co/lJjvOddchS pic.twitter.com/zylqSlsj3K— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) December 14, 2017