REDDING (CBS SF) — A heavy equipment operator assigned to the Cal Fire crews battling the Carr Fire was killed Thursday in a traffic accident, authorities said.
Cal Fire officials said heavy equipment mechanic Andrew Jason Brake was assigned to the Butte Unit and killed in a crash on Highway 99 in Tehama County.
Officials said the accident happened around 12:20 a.m. near Los Molinos. The California Highway Patrol said the vehicle careened off the highway, hit a tree and caught fire.
The fatality was the eighth linked to the Carr Fire. Four residents — including a great grandmother and her two great children — two firefighters and a PG&E utility worker have died since the blaze began on July 23rd.
On Saturday a large gathering was expected for Redding Fire prevention inspector Jeremy Stoke who died in the early hours of the fire attempting to save homes as the blaze ripped through several residential neighborhoods in Redding.
A noon memorial service was scheduled for the Redding Civic Auditorium with a motorcade through the city.
The Carr Fire is the most destructive of the blazes currently raging across the state. It has destroyed 1,077 homes and 22 commercial structures. As of Thursday morning, the fire had charred 177,450 acres and was 48 percent contained.