|Birth: ||Nov. 2, 1962|
San Diego County
|Death: ||Oct. 26, 2006|
San Bernardino County
Four U.S. Forest Service firefighters died shortly after the blaze began Thursday when flames overran them as they tried to protect homes in the area. A fifth firefighter died Tuesday evening.
Firefighter Pablo Cerda, 23, of Fountain Valley died at 5:08 p.m. at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, after his family decided to take him off life support following extensive surgery last week to remove damaged skin.
"He was a great fighter," said Dr. Dev Gnanadev, who spoke to reporters outside the hospital. "In the end we did talk to the family and gave them an option of taking him to the operating room again for further surgeries, knowing his prognosis is very, very poor, and they decided to let Pablo go."
A group of U.S. Forest Service firefighters attended the evening news conference, with tears in their eyes.
"I felt the faith and hope for Pablo's recovery and actually felt a miracle might be possible," said Jeanne Wade Evans, the San Bernardino National Forest supervisor. "Today more sadness is added to our almost unbearable grief."
Cerda was burned over 90 percent of his body Thursday as he and the crew of Engine 57 tried to protect a home from wind-driven flames in the San Jacinto Mountains of Riverside County, 90 miles east of Los Angeles. Three other crew members died at the scene and Cerda's captain died soon after at a hospital.
The fifth death made it the greatest loss of firefighters in a single incident while battling a wildfire since 14 were killed in July 1994 near Glenwood Springs, Colo., according to the National Interagency Fire Center statistics.
Cerda was in just his second year of fighting fires for the Forest Service. He had planned to begin studying to become a paramedic.
The other victims were the engine captain, Mark Loutzenhiser, 43, of Idyllwild; Jason McKay, 27, of Apple Valley; Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; and Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto.
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR FIVE FALLEN USFS FIREFIGHTERS SET FOR SUNDAY
The men of San Bernardino National Forest Engine 57 who gave their lives last week will be honored this Sunday in a Memorial Service to be held in San Bernardino.
The service commemorates the sacrifice of Mark Loutzenhiser, Jess McLean, Jason McKay, Daniel Hoover-Najera and Pablo Cerda. Four died last Thursday in the early stages of the deadly Esperanza Fire when their engine was burned over by the fast-moving blaze. A fifth fire, Pablo Cerda, died early Tuesday evening after a valiant struggle.
WHAT: Engine 57 Fire Service Memorial
WHERE: Hyundai Pavilion at Glen Helen Park
2575 Glen Helen Parkway
San Bernardino, CA 92407
Located near the junction of I-15 and I-215
WHEN: Sunday, November 5, 2006
HONOR GUARDS: US Forest Service Honor Guard will be the lead honor guard, and are inviting all California Fire Service Honor Guards to participate. Agency flags only – no tools or rifles and no US flags. If your local or department has an honor guard that would like to attend, please have honor guard director contact CPF -- firstname.lastname@example.org
PROCESSION: There are currently no plans for a multi-agency apparatus procession – procession will be USFS only. Apparatus are invited, and will be staged in a static fashion at the venue. Watch your email and the CPF web site for further information regarding apparatus parking, etc.
ATTIRE: Class A Uniforms.
CONTRIBUTIONS: Firefighter contribution to help the families of the fallen should be made payable to: California Fire Foundation, with a notation: "Esperanza Firefighters Fund". Mail to:
California Fire Foundation
Esperanza Firefighters Fund
1780 Creekside Oaks – Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95833
Tax ID # 068-0118991
Russell J. Loutzenhiser (1921 - 2009)
Ella Pauline Taylor Loutzenhiser (1926 - 2010)
Created by: May you be blessed wit...
Record added: Nov 01, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 16407238