A brief report released by the U.S. Forest Service states that Charles Morton who died September 17, 2020 on the El Dorado Fire in Southern California was “burned over” by the fire. The term means the fire spread to his location. Other information released by the agency provided no information about the circumstances of the fatality other than he died during suppression activities.
The information was contained in a “72-Hour Report” dated September 24 that according to data at the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center was quietly uploaded to the site October 5, 2020.
The LA Times reported October 29 that the San Bernardino County coroner’s office confirmed that the burns were Morton’s official cause of death.
Investigators found that the El Dorado Fire was started by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party at a park in Yucaipa, California. The fire has burned 22,744 acres and has required the expenditure of nearly $40 million in suppression costs to date. As of Thursday 94 personnel were still assigned to the fire.
Send cards and condolences to the Morton family here:
P.O. Box 63564
Irvine, CA 92602.
Mr. Morton was a member of the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew.
Another Big Bear crewmember has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Carlos Alexander Baltazar’s car was found abandoned on Highway 18 near Delta Avenue by the California Highway Patrol on September 20, about 75 yards from his backpack. His sister said on the driver’s seat was his ID, a money clip with $200, and on the passenger seat was a knife.
He still has not been found after extensive searches in the area.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office said Mr. Baltazar was was off duty when he abandoned his vehicle and was not in the area of the El Dorado Fire. His family said he was distressed over Morton’s death.
A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s office said on September 28, “We have received information that possibly a Subaru was seen in the area and may have picked up Mr. Baltazar.”
Officials are asking anyone with information about Mr. Baltazar to contact the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department at (760) 956-5001.