More than 8,000 firefighters were dispatched to fight the Thomas Fire, including 1,200 from other states, but the resurgence in strong winds had officials anxious the blaze could gain new life on Thursday.
Firefighters made some progress Wednesday on corralling the fire, which continued to spread mostly into national forest land.
Cory Iverson of Escondido died near Fillmore while helping battle the 10-day-old inferno, which has spread over about 242,500 acres and destroyed almost 1,000 structures.
State Fire Chief Ken Pimlott says Cory Iverson was an engineer based in San Diego. "Please join me in keeping our fallen firefighter and his loved ones in your prayers and all the responders on the front lines in your thoughts as they continue to work under extremely challenging conditions". They were expecting their second child this spring.
Tony Meacham, a Cal Fire official in the San Diego area, told reporters Thursday that Iverson was in a very active part of the fire when he was killed, but he gave no other details.
Our honest condolences go out to the Engineer's family, friends, and co-workers.
"He was the type of man you'd want your daughter to marry and the firefighter you'd hope your son would become; the type of guy that you could rely on; the best fireman you could hope to have on your engine", Cal Fire Capt. John Higgie said, according to KSBW.
On Thursday afternoon, dozens of police and fire vehicles escorted a hearse carrying Iverson's flag-draped body to the county medical examiner's office in Ventura.
"Anne and I are saddened by Engineer Cory Iverson's tragic death".
"His bravery and years of committed service to the people of California will never be forgotten", the governor stated. But firefighters continued to construct fire lines in the hills above the coastal communities of Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.
Red Flag warnings for the critical combination of low humidity and strong winds expired for a swath of Southern California at midmorning but a new warning was scheduled to go into effect Saturday in the fire area due to the predicted return of winds.