Cause of death released for Cal Fire San Diego engineer killed in Thomas Fire

(KGTV) - Authorities have released the cause of death for an Escondido fire engineer who died fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties this week.

Cory Iverson, 32, died of "thermal injuries and smoke inhalation," according to the Ventura County Medical Examiner, following an autopsy. The Cal Fire San Diego fire apparatus engineer died on while working in a reportedly "very active" area of the fire in the Fillmore area.

Cal Fire's Serious Accident Review Team is investigating the events leading up to Iverson's death.

RELATED: Cal Fire San Diego firefighter Cory Iverson dies battling Thomas Fire

"Today has been a tragic and devastating day," Cal Fire San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham said in a press conference late Thursday. "This incident has shaken our organization to the core."

Iverson's entire strike team was been pulled from the fire line following his death to allow his colleagues time to grieve.

Iverson leaves behind his wife, two-year-old daughter, mother, father, stepfather, sister, and brother. His wife is also currently expecting a second daughter this spring.

RELATED: Thomas Fire prompts new evacuations in Santa Barbara County

A procession from Ventura County is scheduled for Dec. 17 beginning at 10 a.m. It will make its way into San Diego County down Interstate 15 at about 1 p.m.

A memorial service for Iverson will be held at The Rock Church at 2277 Rosecrans St. on Dec. 23 at 10 a.m.

Iverson joined Cal Fire in 2009 and has been described as someone others will never forget.

"He’s a great young man, somebody who really loved his job," Mecham said.

Cal Fire Local 2881 President Mike Lopez issued a statement regarding Iverson's passing:

"Firefighting is a noble profession and the men and women who make it their life sometimes pay for it with their lives. As colleagues and as human beings we grieve for this young man with such a bright future and the young family that will now go forward without a loving husband and father. We pray that they will always understand that Cory was a hero and, because of him, our communities are safe and people are able to sleep knowing that the dangerous calls get answered by someone. This holiday season is now a time to grieve and to reflect and to remember that security comes with a price."

A GoFundMe account has been established to assist the family. After one day, the fund has raised nearly $300,000 as the goal has been increased again to $500,000. Money from the fund will go toward helping Iverson's wife and daughters with expenses, according to organizers.

INTERACTIVE MAP: THOMAS FIRE

Since Dec. 4, the Thomas Fire has grown to 259,000 acres and is 40 percent contained. One other person has died as a result of the fire after they were involved in a vehicle crash while trying to evacuate.

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