The family of a Santa Rosa man said he died on Sunday after suffering an asthma attack possibly linked to smoke from the North Bay fires.
Joshua Hoefer, 27, reportedly had an asthma attack last Wednesday at his home, according to his girlfriend Cierra Lopez. Lopez said Hoefer had asthma and was trying to use his inhaler when he asked her to call 911.
Lopez said Hoefer was rushed to Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa. The 27-year-old spent four days on life support and died Sunday afternoon.
At a news conference, a doctor was asked about Hoefer’s death and said the coroner would determine the cause of death and that there may be underlying issues.
Lopez and Hoefer had a 5-year-old son, Nathan. Hoefer is being remembered as a good person and great father.
"He was very proud of his son and he was so driven to be a good father to him and to have a good life for him," Lopez said.
A spokeswoman for St. Joseph Health, Vanessa deGier, said Hoefer was admitted to their hospital via ambulance and was unresponsive. He was pronounced brain dead shortly after arrival. She added that, to date, the coroner has declared no deaths directly related to the wildfires at their facility.
The official death toll from the fires in Sonoma County stands at 22 and at least 40 people have died from the wildfires across Northern California. The death toll may keep growing as officials search for the missing.
Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said 88 people remain missing, out of the roughly 1,800 missing persons reports the department received since the fires began.
Officials have a list of people who might be in their homes. Giordano said targeted teams are doing searches and National Guard troops are doing blanket searches.
"We don't want to miss a person," Giordano said. "If we have an area we want to bring people into, we are going to search every part of that area for a victim we don't know about. That is what the National Guard is doing for us. That's whats taking us time to clear some of the burned areas as well."
The sheriff said the National Guard has committed to helping in the recovery of victims as long as they're needed. They'll be in the North Bay at least two weeks, maybe for a month. The timeline is uncertain because the county has never handled a crisis so big.