Name released for forestry technician killed September 17 on Southern California fire

Charlie Morton was a Squad Boss on the Big Bear Hotshots

The U.S. Forest Service has released the name of the forestry technician who died September 17, 2020 in Southern California. Charlie Morton, a Squad Boss on the Big Bear Hotshots passed away on the El Dorado Fire .

Below is an excerpt from a message sent to all Forest Service employees by Chief Vicki Christiansen September 21 at 5:35 p.m.


Charlie Morton
Charlie Morton, USFS photo.

“Local efforts to support the firefighter fatality that occurred last Thursday, September 17th have progressed and we are now able to share more information with you. Tragically, Charlie Morton, Squad Boss on the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew, died during suppression activities on the El Dorado Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest in California. The Big Bear Hotshots are local to the San Bernardino National Forest.

“Charlie joined the San Bernardino National Forest in 2007 and worked on both the Front Country and Mountaintop Ranger Districts, for the Mill Creek Interagency Hotshots, Engine 31, Engine 19, and the Big Bear Interagency Hotshots. His family has asked us to share, “Charlie is survived by his wife and daughter, his parents, two brothers, cousins, and friends. He’s loved and will be missed. May he rest easy in heaven.

“The loss of an employee in the line of duty is one of the hardest things we face in our Forest Service family. Certainly, this is true for me as your Chief. Our hearts go out to Charlie’s coworkers, friends and loved ones. Charlie was a well-respected firefighter and leader who was always there for his squad and his crew at the toughest times. We will keep the Big Bear Hotshots and the San Bernardino National Forest employees and community in our thoughts and prayers.

“Now more than ever we are reminded of the truly honorable work and sacrifices made by our wildland fire employees. They commit themselves each day, for weeks and months on end, to protecting lives and supporting communities around the country, in service to their fellow Americans. Our nation owes them all a debt of gratitude.

“We are still learning about the circumstances surrounding Charlie’s passing. We will provide information on plans for services and expressions of condolence as soon as they become available. But for now, I extend my deepest sympathies to Charlie’s coworkers, friends and loved ones. Again, they will remain in our thoughts and prayers.”


Investigators found that the El Dorado Fire was started by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party.

Send cards and condolences to the Morton family here:
P.O. Box 63564
Irvine, CA 92602.

For FedEx or UPS:
c/o ‘Support for Charlie’
1 League # 63564
Irvine, CA 92602.

We send out our sincere condolences for Mr. Morton’s family, friends, and co-workers.

A firefighter has died on the El Dorado Fire in Southern California

The wildfire started from gender-reveal party pyrotechnics

Forest Service fatality

The U.S. Forest Service announced in a news release this morning that a firefighter was killed while working on the El Dorado Fire in Southern California Thursday, September 17, 2020. Neither the name nor the circumstances were released.

CBS News reported that the firefighter had been missing.

Crews had been trying to locate the firefighter, who went missing in the San Bernardino National Forest while fighting the El Dorado Fire, officials said Thursday night, CBS Los Angeles reported. The firefighter was found dead, according to San Bernardino National Forest Public Information Officer Kate Kramer.

This blaze which has burned about 19,000 acres and destroyed 4 homes was started by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used at a gender reveal party September 5, 2020.

The fire is northeast of Yucaipa just west of the Apple Fire that burned 33,000 acres 5 weeks ago.

Our sincere condolences go out to the firefighter’s family, friends, and co-workers.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom.

El Dorado Fire approaches Highway 38 near Angelus Oaks, increasing the threat to the mountain communities

The fire is 6 miles south of Big Bear Lake in southern California

map of the El Dorado Fire
3-D map of the El Dorado Fire at 11:44 p.m. PDT Sept 14, 2020; looking east.

The El Dorado Fire slowly burned down slope towards the Angelus Oaks community Monday night allowing fire resources the opportunity to secure indirect and direct firelines in preparation for active fire Tuesday. Firefighters are prepared to conduct firing operations around Angeles Oaks if needed using hand crews and fire engine crews.

The portion of the fire north of Oak Glen has not spread much in recent days but it was very active Monday and Tuesday south and east of Angelus Oaks where it ran over the ridge and is working its way down to Highway 38 east of the community.

The fire is northeast of Yucaipa, California just west of the Apple Fire that burned 33,000 acres 5 weeks ago, and it is 6 miles south of Big Bear Lake.

Tuesday there was an 8 to 10 mph wind gusting to 20 mph above the 6,000 foot elevation. The weather remains hot and dry. Officials said the fire could align with topography and burn actively upslope towards the San Bernardino Peak (northeast) towards the Lake Fire scar. The threat has increased for the mountain communities north of Highway 38.

The incident management team is having difficulty obtaining the firefighting resources they need.

This blaze which has blackened 17,532 acres and destroyed 4 homes was started by a pyrotechnic device used at a gender reveal party September 5, 2020.

According to the National Situation Report, resources assigned to the fire include 19 hand crews, 205 fire engines, and 11 helicopters for a total of 1,319 personnel.

map of the El Dorado Fire
Map of the El Dorado Fire at 11:44 p.m. PDT Sept 14, 2020.
El Dorado Fire, Sept 11, 2020
El Dorado Fire, Sept 11, 2020. InciWeb.

The 7,000-acre El Dorado Fire was started by a pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party

Gender Reveal Halltoons
@halltoons. Used with permission.

Another large wildfire has been started by a pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party. CAL FIRE determined that the El Dorado Fire which has burned over 7,000 acres near a heavily populated area of San Bernardino County in southern California was started by the use of a smoke generating pyrotechnic device. The intent was to produce pink or blue smoke to inform bystanders (waiting breathlessly nearby) about the gender of a fetus.

The fire began at 10:23 a.m. on September 5, 2020 in the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa. It spread from the park north to Yucaipa Ridge which separates Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls from the City of Yucaipa.

At least two other gender reveal parties that used pyrotechnic devices have started wildfires in recent years.

The 46,000-acre Sawmill Fire southeast of Tucson, Arizona was ignited in 2017 by an off-duty Border Patrol agent. He mixed colored powder into a Tannerite exploding target which would show blue or pink smoke when shot with a rifle, according to his attorney, Sean Chapman. The target exploded as planned and started what became the Sawmill Fire. A witness helpfully recorded a video of the explosion.

In 2020 a gender reveal party in Florida went wrong and sparked a 10-acre fire, also caused by a Tannerite exploding target.

El Dorado Fire
El Dorado Fire, photo by Jeff Zimmerman Sept. 5, 2020.