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Second Firefighter Killed Battling Wildfire Near Yosemite

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Flames from the Ferguson Fire crest a hill in Stanislaus National Forest, near Yosemite National Park on July 21, 2018. (NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images)

A second firefighter has died battling the massive Ferguson Fire, burning just miles from Yosemite National Park.

Captain Brian Hughes with the Arrowhead Hotshots was killed on Sunday after being struck by a tree. (Brad Torchia/National Parks Service)

According to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks officials, 33-year-old Brian Hughes died after being struck by a tree. They say he was treated on scene, but died before he could be taken to the hospital.

“The team at Sequoia and Kings National Parks is devastated by this terrible news,” said parks superintendent Woody Smeck in a statement. “Our deepest condolences go out to the firefighter’s family and loved ones. We grieve this loss with you.”

Hughes and his crew were engaged in a tactical firing operation on the east side of the wildfire at the time of the incident. According to the statement, they were working in an area "with a large amount of tree mortality."

Hughes was originally from Hilo, Hawaii and served as captain of the elite Arrowhead Interagency Hotshots.


An official memorial website has been established in honor of Captain Hughes where the public can learn about his upcoming memorial services and where to send condolence letters or contributions.

The incident marks the second firefighter death due the Ferguson Fire since it ignited on July 13. Cal Fire Heavy Equipment Operator Braden Varney, 36, died battling the blaze on July 14 after his bulldozer overturned in a steep ravine.

The massive wildland blaze has forced Yosemite National Park officials to shut down a large portion of the park, including the highly-trafficked Yosemite Valley. Officials say they plan to reopen the valley to visitors on Friday afternoon. The Wawona and Mariposa Grove areas of the park will remain closed until further notice in order to house firefighting operations.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Ferguson Fire had scorched 53,646 acres and is 30 percent contained.

This post has been updated to include the identity of, and more information about, Brian Hughes.

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