Cal Fire reports firefighter fatality in Sierra forest fire

Lester Mason
July 17, 2018

Power lines in the canyon that provide electric power to Yosemite Valley have been turned off for the safety of firefighters, said park spokeswoman Jamie Richards.

Fire officials said it had burned about 150 acres by Saturday afternoon and was only five percent contained. Varney was driving a bulldozer to create a gap in vegetation to keep the flames from extending into a nearby community, according to fire chief Nancy Koerperich.

Specifics as to the manner in which Varney died was not released as Cal Fire works to confirm the details surrounding his death. "This is certainly going to be devastating to his family and those of us here that call him family", Corprich said. 'But we all know in the world of firefighting it is a hard job, it is a unsafe job, and Braden will be greatly missed'. He was a second generation CAL FIRE employee and 10-year veteran of CAL FIRE. His father also worked as a CalFire heavy equipment operator.

A firefighter was killed Saturday while battling a wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park, California state fire officials said.


The fire began Friday evening. CAL FIRE says Varney leaves behind a wife and two small children. So far this year, about 3.3 million acres have been burned by wildfires across the country, slightly ahead of normal for this time of year, based on a 10-year average.

Mariposa County Supervisor Kevin Cann said, "Braden was an outstanding young man, a super-hard worker and well-respected throughout the community". Cedar Lodge and Jerseydale areas are under advisory as recovery teams make progress on retrieving Varney's body.

In honor of Heavy Equipment Operator Varney, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff. While Yosemite National Park remains open, those looking to head to the park will need to avoid Highway 140, which has been closed between Midpines and El Portal.

Last year, state firefighter Cory Iverson died of burns and smoke inhalation while battling a wildfire in Ventura County.

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