FRESNO, Calif. >> Hundreds of colleagues, family and friends attended a memorial service today for an elite firefighter from Hilo who died fighting one of California’s 17 major wildfires still burning.
The Fresno Bee reported today that a 50-vehicle procession carrying the body Brian Hughes drove through the town before the memorial service. Hughes, who is originally from Hawaii island, lived in nearby Squaw Valley with his fiancée Paige Miller, who is due to give birth to their first child in February.
The 33-year-old was killed July 29 by a falling tree while battling a wildfire that has prompted the closure and evacuation of nearby Yosemite National Park.
Hughes was National Park Service fire captain and the leader of an elite “hotshot” crew responsible for fighting fires in rugged terrain.
He is one of four firefighters who have died in recent weeks while fighting wildfires.
Also today, California Gov. Jerry Brown called on President Donald Trump to help the state deal with another deadly and destructive wildfire season.
Inspecting the fire-damaged neighborhoods of Redding today, the governor also said California needs a statewide emergency alert system.
Brown says he is hopeful Trump will issue a so-called Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for California. The declaration would help fire victims with unemployment assistance, food aid and legal and mental health counseling among other federal programs.
The declaration will also make counties and cities eligible for federal financial assistance and help with repairing the billions of dollars of damage done to infrastructure.
More immediately, the declaration will enable federal agencies to help battle the 17 major fires burning throughout the state.