UPDATE: 11:15 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020 — A firefighter from Texas killed battling a wildfire in the Northern California forest was working the fire lines when her truck rolled off a remote backcountry road as she tried to escape the flames, fire officials said.
Diana Jones, 63, was an emergency medical technician with the Cresson Volunteer Fire Department in Texas who had spent the last few summers doing contract firefighting with her son, a captain with the department, the fire department said in a statement published Wednesday on its Facebook page.
“We’re all numb. We’re shell-shocked. She’ll be sorely missed,” Cresson Fire Chief Ron Becker told KQED News.
A retired hairdresser, Jones had been a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician in Cresson, a community of 1,000 people about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Fort Worth, for nearly five years. She and her son, Captain Ian Shelly, would travel to the Pacific Northwest to work on wildfires, Becker said.
Jones was working at a blaze Monday in Tehama County when the fire became more active. She and another firefighter got into their truck to escape the flames. As they reversed the vehicle, it plunged about 15 feet down an embankment and slammed into a tree, according to CHP spokesman Omar Valdez told KQED News.
Jones was not able to escape the vehicle as fire engulfed it, Valdez said. The other person in the vehicle was able to get out but suffered burns that required hospitalization.
The complex burning in timber, chaparral and tall grass began as 37 separate fires but many have either been contained or merged, according to the Forest Service.
Jones’ death marks the second fatality among first responders helping battle wildfires in California since mid-August when thousands of lightning strikes ignited hundreds of blazes around the state.
UPDATE: 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020 – A Texas volunteer firefighter has been killed while helping battle the August Complex fires burning in the Mendocino National Forest.
The deceased firefighter was identified by the Cresson department as a female who had volunteered to work at a western wildfire but the U.S. Forest Service confirmed that one person was killed and another injured Monday while battling the August Complex fire which has burned more than 236,000 acres in the Mendocino National Forest since Aug. 17.
Firefighter Diana Jones was as an EMT and volunteer firefighter. She had been with the Cresson Volunteer Fire Department for more than 5 years. Cresson is about 25 miles southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, CBS reports.
WILLOWS, Calif. – Forest Service representatives say a firefighter died Monday, battling the August Complex burning in the Mendocino National Forest. Two additional firefighters were involved in the accident.
The firefighters were working on the Tatham Fire within the August Complex, when the vehicle accident occurred, according to Forest Service officials.
A second injured firefighter is receiving medical attention for burns to their hand and arm, while the third firefighter involved received no injuries.
"This was a tragic incident and our hearts go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of the fallen firefighter," said Acting Forest Supervisor, Sandra Moore. "Right now, we are committed to providing support to those involved, while safely continuing firefighting operations.”
California Highway Patrol (CHP) is currently leading this investigation.
The August Complex fires in western Glenn County have burned 242,941 acres and is 20% contained. Click here for the latest updates on this complex.