A U.S. Forest Service firefighter whose body was found Friday in the Modoc National Forest died of carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation, according to Forest Service officials.
David Ruhl, an engine captain with the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota, was reported missing Thursday evening during the initial attack on the Frog fire. The cause of death was announced Tuesday following an autopsy.
Officials said Ruhl had been on temporary assignment to the Big Valley Ranger District of the Modoc National Forest as an assistant fire management officer since June 14.
The Modoc County Sheriff’s Office was called to assist in searching for Ruhl after her was reported missing Thursday. The initial search began about 8 p.m. and continued until about midnight, when it was halted because of hazardous fire conditions, according to a Forest Service news release. Efforts resumed about 6 a.m. Friday and Ruhl’s body was found shortly before 9:30 a.m.
Forest Service officials said a team of people with technical expertise in specialty areas such as fire management, fire behavior, protective equipment, and human factors and performance began Monday to assess the incident in a bid to reduce chances of a recurrence. That report will be available to the public when it is completed, officials said.