KETTLEMAN CITY, Calif. — A fire battalion chief with the U.S. Forest Service was killed in a traffic accident while returning home from fighting a wildfire near Yosemite National Park.
Authorities say 47-year-old Battalion Chief Gary Helming was on a remote stretch of highway about halfway through the 200-mile drive home to Pismo Beach on Thursday when another driver blew a tire and ran into his pickup truck.
The California Highway Patrol says Helming died at the scene. The other driver was airlifted to a hospital with major injuries.
Gov. Jerry Brown paid tribute to Helming in a statement and offered condolences to his family.
The governor says Helming was a 22-year veteran of the Forest Service who was based in Santa Maria in the Los Padres National Forest.