USA

Fire sparked by gender-reveal device killed Hotshot crew boss

Officials were investigating the death of a firefighter at another Southern California wildfire that erupted earlier this month from a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used by a couple to reveal their baby's gender. Charles Morton, 39, died on Sept. 17 while battling the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino National Forest about 75 miles east of Los Angeles.

Morton, was a 14-year veteran of the U.S. Forest Service and a squad boss with the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew of the San Bernardino National Forest.

"Charlie was a well-respected leader who was always there for his squad and his crew at the toughest times," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.

"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 with his baby boy," Morton's family said in a statement.

CBS Los Angeles reports family and friends offered prayers and support on social media after Morton's father posted a photo of his son with the caption "end of watch."

The photo has been shared almost 50,000 times on Facebook.

The Big Bear Hotshot team had been battling the El Dorado Fire and, before that, the Apple Fire in Riverside County, the station reported. The U.S. Hotshots Association posted a photo of a belt buckle after Morton's death, writing: "Rest easy brother, may the wind be at your back."

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