Volunteer Firefighter, 63, Dies Working Alongside Her Son to Put Out California Wildfires
A volunteer firefighter helping combat the ongoing wildfires in Northern California died in a "tragic accident."
Earlier this month, the United States Forest Service confirmed the death of one firefighter who was working on the Tatham Fire within the August Complex on Monday, Aug. 31. Officials described the incident as a "vehicle accident," which also left a second firefighter injured.
"This was a tragic incident and our hearts go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of the fallen firefighter," Sandra Moore, acting forest supervisor, said in a press release on Sept. 1. "Right now we are committed to providing support to those involved while safely continuing firefighting operations."
A day later, the Texas-based Cresson Volunteer Fire Department confirmed the identity of the firefighter who died in the accident: 63-year-old Diana Jones, who helped fight wildfires alongside her son, Capt. Ian Shelly.
"With her family's permission, yesterday we released the name of our firefighter lost to us in California. Diana Jones would have been with us 5 years in November," the department wrote on Facebook. "Together with her son, our Captain Ian Shelly, she would go to the Pacific Northwest to work on wildfires."
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"Diana was 63, and had a different profession before joining us. In five years she became both an accomplished firefighter and earned her Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification," continued the statement. "Diana was a servant, she served us and our community in so many ways without seeking recognition."
The Cresson Volunteer Fire Department shared an anecdote to illustrate Jones' selflessness, recalling a time she gave back to her community.
"Our Chaplin's church provides a lunch every Tuesday for area first responders. After attending a few times, instead of taking her rightful place being served at the table she started bringing home cooked dishes and served other first responders," read the post. "That was our Diana Jones."
"We are overwhelmed at the outpouring of support from so many of you around the world for our little fire department. Thank you so much," they added. "... From all of us, thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
According to the Forest Service - Mendocino National Forest team, as of Sunday, the August Complex currently sits at 325,172 acres and is 24 percent contained. The Hull, Doe, Tatham and Glade wildfires have "merged to form one large fire," and there are 22 crews, four camp crews, seven helicopters, 53 engines, 20 dozers, 32 water tenders and two masticators helping in the area.