A firefighter killed by a wildfire in Northern California was scouting the area exploring for ways to attack it when he became trapped after erratic winds stoked the blaze, officials said today. Forest Service firefighter David Ruhl was driving down a Modoc National Forest road in a vehicle Thursday when the fire suddenly grew and trapped him, said information officer Ken Sandusky. Ruhl, of Rapid City, South Dakota, had been on temporary assignment since June in California, where he was an assistant fire management officer for the Big Valley Ranger District of the Modoc National.
Scott Jacobson, a co-worker and spokesman for the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota, said Ruhl, 38, volunteered to work in California. He wanted to broaden his firefighting experience and improve his skills and was passionate about his job, Jacobson said. The married father of two children was well-liked for his easygoing and humble manner, and for always being there for everyone, Jacobson said. By today, the blaze about 100 miles south of the Oregon border had burned 2.8 square miles and was 5% contained. (Read more firefighters stories.)