SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - Friends, family and strangers will host a procession Tuesday for the firefighter who died while battling the El Dorado Fire started after a gender reveal party went awry in San Bernardino County.
Officials have identified that firefighter as Charlie Morton, 39, the crew boss of the Big Bear Interagency Hotshots. He died Sept. 17 in the San Bernardino Mountains.
According to the San Bernardino Sun, Morton had been a firefighter for 18 years, most of career had been with the US Forest Service.
Morton was born in San Diego, Forest Service officials said. He is survived by his wife, daughter, parents, two brothers, cousins and friends.
The U.S. Hotshots Association posted a photo of a belt buckle on social media after Morton’s death, writing: “Rest easy brother, may the wind be at your back.”
Hotshots, according to the Forest Service, are highly skilled hand crews and often assigned to work on the most challenging parts of wildfires. They must meet stringent standards for physical fitness and training.
Toni Atkins, president pro tempore of the California Senate said, “San Diego, and the state, lost a true hero last week.”
In a prior interview, Cal Fire Capt. Bennett Milloy also said that Morton's death, the only one so far as a result of this El Dorado Fire, will also change the nature of the criminal investigation of the couple who hosted the gathering on Sept. 5 in the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa.
Now, that someone has died, the San Bernardino Sheriff will take over that part of the investigation.
The couple had brought a small group of people to a field, good for photo ops, to set off a machine that spewed either blue or pink smoke to reveal the gender of the baby. The smoke, set off in the grassy field on a hot day, sparked the fire that has now burned more than 22,000 acres and was about 60% contained, according to Cal Fire.
Once that is done, a report will be forwarded to the District Attorney for review and possible charges. Milloy said that in general, a charge that could be brought, aside with starting a fire and destruction of property, is some type of manslaughter charge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.