“Heavy Equipment Operator Braden Varney, 36, died while fighting the Ferguson Fire on the Sierra National Forest. He was a second generation CAL FIRE employee and 10-year veteran of CAL FIRE.” – CA Governor Jerry Brown’s office on July 14th, 218
Braden Varney’s bulldozer tumbled down a steep canyon while he was attempting to hold back a fire that had already burned 150 acres in some very rugged terrain 20 miles southwest of Yosemite, CA on Saturday.
Braden had started work at 8:30pm on Friday and at some point, crews lost radio contact with him, according to Cal Fire spokesman Jeremy Rahn.
It’s unclear wether the accident happened in daylight or at night.
“It’s common practice for the dozers to be working through the night.” – Cal Fire spokesman Jeremy Rahn
Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean reports that Braden was a local community member residing in Mariposa, CA and he’d been a part of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit for a decade
“He was a community member. That’s where he lived, protecting the area where he grew up,” McLean said.
This fire started on Friday The 13th, July 2018 and has increased to 9,266 acres requiring 700+ personnel to fight it.
10 US Wildland Firefighters have now died in the line of duty this year.
14 US Wildland Firefighters died in 2017 when the USA experienced it’s 2nd worst wildfire year on record with 10 million acres burned.
“Anne and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Heavy Equipment Operator Braden Varney, a man who dedicated his life to protecting his fellow Californians. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and many colleagues who are mourning this sudden and tragic loss.” – Governor Jerry Brown on July 14th, 2018
Braden is survived by his wife, 5-year-old daughter, and 3-year-old son.
Wildfires have been raging across the Western USA this spring and summer.
“Mandatory evacuations remain in effect in Clearing House; Mariposa Pines; Cedar Lodge/Savage’s Trading Post and Sweetwater Ridge.
A Pre-evacuation Advisory has been issued for Yosemite West and along the Jerseydale Road to Scott Road and Scott Road to Bear Clover are under Fire Advisement. Residents should be prepared to evacuate should conditions change.” – Iniciweb, today
California has had its worst start to the fire season in a decade, with 220,421 acres burned through Thursday morning, according to NIFC data.
US wildfires have already burned 3.3 million acres this year, more than the average year to date acreage burned is 3 million acres, according to the NIFC database.