|Smoke from the region’s wildfires was heavy even in downtown Jacksonville, Fla. (Bob Self/ Florida Times-Union/ AP)|
TALLAHASSEE — Two forest rangers trapped by shifting flames died while fighting a wildfire that also injured two others near Jasper in north Florida, officials said yesterday.
The rangers were working Monday to stop a rekindled blaze called the Blue Ribbon Fire in Hamilton County on the Georgia line, one of more than 400 wildfires burning around Florida in one of the busiest fire seasons in years.
The rangers killed were 31-year-old Josh Burch of Lake City and 52-year-old Brett Fulton of White Springs, said Sterling Ivey, a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Officials say the injured rangers, Robert Marvin and Stephen Carpenter, suffered smoke- and heat-related injuries while trying to help their fellow firefighters. They were treated and released from hospitals in Lake City and Gainesville.
The Blue Ribbon Fire started June 16 and had been declared contained before dry conditions allowed it to flare up again Monday.
“Josh and Brett were cutting a fire line around the fire,’’ Ivey said. “The wind changed and they became trapped by the flames and couldn’t get out.’’
Both men were married. Fulton had two grown children and Burch had two sons, ages 4 and 5, Ivey said. Burch had been with the department’s Division of Forestry for 10 years and Fulton for 11 years.
Governor Rick Scott told CBS’s “The Early Show’’ yesterday that his heart goes out to the families.“It’s tragic, but pray for rain,’’ Scott said. “It looks like we’re going to start getting more rain tomorrow.’’