A South Dakota firefighter died while helping battle a wildfire in California, officials said Friday.
David Ruhl, a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, died Thursday while on assignment at the Frog Fire burning in the Modoc National Forest, just outside Alturas in Northern California.
Search and rescue was conducted late Thursday until the firefighter was found Friday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
"This loss of life is tragic and heartbreaking," U.S. Forest Service Supervisor Amanda McAdams said in a statement. "Please keep the family and all of our Forest Service employees in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
Ruhl served as an engine captain on the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest in Rapid City, South Dakota.
On June 14, Ruhl was temporarily assigned to the Big Valley Ranger District of the Modoc National Forest as an assistant fire management officer.
The Frog Fire erupted in the Modoc National Forest Thursday afternoon and had grown to more than 800 acres by late Friday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
News of Ruhl's death comes on the same day California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in response to the severe wildfires burning across the state.
“Anne and I were saddened to learn of the tragic death of U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Dave Ruhl, who left his home state to help protect one of California’s majestic forests," California Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement. "Firefighter Ruhl will be remembered for his service and bravery and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues with the U.S. Forest Service.”
Ruhl is survived by his wife, Erin, and their two children. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 14 years and previously served in the U.S. Coast Guard, according to Brown's statement.
The U.S. Forest Service is investigating Ruhl's death.