Eric Richard Ratledge, identified yesterday by the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office as the victim found in the bed of a burning truck in Millville last November, was a wildland firefighter last summer for Firestorm Wildland Suppression, Inc. Jess Wills, President of Firestorm, confirmed Ratledge worked on a Type-II Initial Attack Crew in the summer of 2013.
“Eric did a good job as a first year guy,” said Wills. “He was a hard worker with no bad marks on his performance record.”
Wills indicated last summer was the first summer the 31-year-old signed on with Firestorm, a wildland fire suppression company who provides hand crews on contract to federal agencies. He had no previous record of firefighting before Firestorm.
Ratledge was identified yesterday as the victim found burnt beyond recognition in the back of a burning pickup truck in the early morning hours of Sunday, November 3 on the 8800 block of Bass Pond Drive in Millville. He was positively identified through DNA analysis and his death is currently being investigated by the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit as a homicide. There is currently a $10,000 reward offered by Secret Witness of Shasta County for credible information regarding Ratledge’s death. There are currently no suspects in his murder.
Ratledge has two previous arrests and convictions in Shasta County in 2008 and 2010 stemming from controlled substance possession and sales charges, but Wills said his company has previously hired men and women from the state inmate programs and checkered backgrounds if they prove they are ready to change their lives for the better.
“Our mission is to help young people gain an opportunity to begin their careers in wildland firefighting if they can show us they are ready to be clean and sober,” said Wills. “On behalf of myself and my company, our hearts go out to Eric’s family in this horrible situation.”