The Northern California fires that have blazed on for days have now claimed the life of one man attempting to control the flames, CNN reported early Saturday morning.
David Ruhl of Rapid City, South Dakota, went missing Thursday night, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s statement. Rescuers found his body Friday as he was attempting to fight the Frog Fire in Adin, California.
Due to the 18 large California fires, Ruhl had accepted an assignment in Modoc National Forest to help combat the massive blaze, according to the Sacramento, California, Fox affiliate. Ruhl, 38, was the Engine Captain for the Black Hills National Forest in Rapid City.
Ruhl had been in California since June battling fires, the Washington Post reported. The Modoc fire Ruhl was battling started Thursday and grew to 800 acres rapidly.
California Governor Jerry Brown released a statement later praising Ruhl’s service fighting the fires, according to NBC News.
“Anne and I were saddened to learn of the tragic death of U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Dave Ruhl, who left his home state to help protect one of California’s majestic forests. Firefighter Ruhl will be remembered for his service and bravery and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues with the U.S. Forest Service.”
In Ruhl’s memory, the U.S. Forest Service in California is lowering their flag, according to a tweet posted late Friday.
As the California fires have raged on for days, Gov. Brown declared a state of emergency Friday, Fox News reported. The declaration activates the California National Guard, who can bring equipment in to assist with the fight.
The drought, which is to blame for previous California fires, has lasted for more than four years and is hindering relief efforts, Brown said in the emergency declaration, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“California’s severe drought and extreme weather have turned much of the state into a tinderbox. Our courageous firefighters are on the front lines and we’ll do everything we can to help them.”
In all, more than 8,000 firefighters have been battling the California fires, according to the CBS affiliate in Boston. In all, some 50,000 acres have been scorched due to the fires.
The cause of two of the California fires has been identified, landing one woman in jail, a local NBC affiliate. Lisa Ann Vilmur was arrested Thursday night, and her bail is set for $100,000.
Another blaze was set by a young boy playing with fire in the Sierra Nevada. While the boy may face criminal charges at a later date, he is not in custody because he and the family have been cooperative during the investigation.
[Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]