Firefighter killed in California wildfires is Wisconsin native - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Firefighter killed in California wildfires is Wisconsin native

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PHOTO COURTESY: Black Hills National Forest PHOTO COURTESY: Black Hills National Forest

(WKOW) -- A firefighter, originally from Whitewater, Wisconsin, was killed while battling a wildfire in California on Thursday.

The Associated Press reports David Ruhl, 38, died Thursday. Ruhl, a U.S. Forest Service firefighter, was in a vehicle in the Modoc National Forest, scouting for ways to suppress the flames when crews lost contact with him Thursday evening, according to an agency spokesperson. His body was recovered Friday.

Officials say Ruhl lived in Rapid City, South Dakota, with his wife and two children. He grew up in Wisconsin and his family tells 27 News he graduated from Whitewater High School. He previously worked for the U.S. Coast Guard and as a correctional officer. 

Ruhl was the engine captain for Black Hills' Mystic Ranger District. 

“Our hearts are heavy for Dave, Dave’s family, friends, the entire Forest Service and wildland fire community,” said Forest Supervisor Craig Bobzien.

The U.S. Forest Service says an autopsy to determine just how Ruhl died will be done this week, but they'll have to wait on lab tests for an official determination, which could take up to five weeks.

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