Fires

Dozer operator killed in I-80 car crash on way to fight North Fire in Tahoe forest, officials say

Watch firefighters attack the North Fire in Tahoe National Forest

Tyler Medders of the Susanville Hot Shots fights the North Fire near the North Fork Campground in the Tahoe National Forest on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.
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Tyler Medders of the Susanville Hot Shots fights the North Fire near the North Fork Campground in the Tahoe National Forest on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.

A private contractor hired to assist containment efforts on the North Fire died in a car crash on his way to the incident, Tahoe National Forest said in a news release.

Tony Flores, a 37-year-old employee of Kent Siller Trucking who had worked for the company over 20 years, was a bulldozer operator assigned to the 1,120-acre wildfire burning at Tahoe National Forest, according to the news release.

Flores died in a collision on westbound Interstate 80 near Blue Canyon shortly before 6 a.m. Tuesday, while he was driving to an incident command post at Blue Canyon Airport, Tahoe National Forest officials said.

Flores was a lifelong resident of Yuba City, the news release said, the same city where Kent Siller Trucking is based. It is about 65 miles between Yuba City and Blue Canyon Airport.

He is survived by a wife of 18 years and four children ages 9 through 16, the news release said.

More than 260 fire personnel are currently assigned to the North Fire, which stood at 1,120 acres and 85 percent containment, the U.S. Forest Service reported Tuesday night.

Bulldozers are frequently used in containment efforts for large and fast-spreading wildfires in California.

“This has been an extremely tough fire season for our firefighters both physically and emotionally,” Northern California Interagency Incident Team 1 Commander Curtis Coots said in a statement Tuesday night.

Neil Siller of Kent Siller Trucking told U.S. Forest Service officials that Flores had an “outstanding work ethic,” according to the news release.

The California Highway Patrol and Placer County Sheriff’s Office continue to investigate the cause of the fatal accident.

The North Fire sparked last Monday, and quickly prompted the evacuation and closure of at least six campgrounds and surrounding areas, as well as the closure of two I-80 offramps near Emigrant Gap.

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