California has been experiencing a blistering heat wave, and fires are ablaze across the state, which are so extreme smoke can be seen from space.
REDDING, Calif. – The firefighter who was killed Monday fighting the August Complex in the Mendocino National Forest was working the fire lines with her son.
Diana Jones was as an emergency medical technician with the Cresson Volunteer Fire Department in Texas who had spent the last few summers doing contract firefighting with her son, Ian Shelly, Cresson Fire Chief Ron Becker told the Record Searchlight.
Becker said Shelly’s wife called him Monday night to tell him Jones had died. Shelly is a captain with the Cresson fire department, a community about 25 miles south of Fort Worth.
Diana Jones (Photo: Cresson Volunteer Fire Department)
“Diana was dedicated to trying to make people’s lives a little bit better, making our community a little bit better,” Becker said. “She was not any type of glory seeker or anything like that. She just wanted to make things better for people.”
Becker did not have any details on what happened to Jones.
U.S. Forest Service officials said Jones was working the Tatham Fire within the August Complex when she was involved in a vehicle accident. One other firefighter suffered burns to the hands and arm in the accident.
‘Stay strong’: As California wildfires rage, hotels offer vouchers, discounts for those displaced
The California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision. No further information was released.
“This is a tragic accident and our hearts go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of the fallen firefighter,” Acting Forest Supervisor Sandra Moore said in a news release.
Becker said his department got permission from Jones’ family to release her name and photograph.
Jones was a hairdresser before she started working for the Cresson Volunteer Fire Department, Becker said. She had been with the department for nearly five years.
“She sort of retired and moved here and started helping us,” Becker said.
Shelly, Jones’ son, has worked for the Cresson fire department for 19 years.
The August Complex of fires burns in the Mendocino National Forest on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. The fire were sparked by lightning on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. (Photo: InciWeb)
In the summer, Shelly does contract work helping federal and state agencies on the fire lines, Becker said. The work takes him across the West.
“She (Jones) decided she would like to accompany him as he did some of this, and she worked her way up to be an engine boss, like a truck supervisor,” Becker said. “This was one of the ways she and her son made a living.”
Becker said Jones was selfless.
He recalled the chaplain in his department organized meals for first responders at his church.
“Diana was obviously a first responder and she would go over there and eat,” Becker said. “But after a couple of times, I noticed Diana wasn’t eating. What she started doing was preparing a dessert or salad and she went over to help serve. So here’s this lunch designed for her, but instead of her taking it … she turned around and was trying to serve first responders.
“You can see somebody like that saying, ‘Don’t give me what I might be entitled to. Let me go help someone else.’ That was Diana Jones.”
The August Complex of fires has burned nearly 243,000 acres and was 20% contained as of Tuesday morning.
California wildfires: How the ancient redwoods in the state’s oldest state park survivs
The complex started Aug. 17 and was initially 37 different fires on the Mendocino National Forest.
Officials have said many of the fires have been contained or have merged.
The 5,480-acre Hopkins Fire was the most recently added and is burning about 25 miles northeast of Covelo in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness and the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Follow David Benda on Twitter: @DavidBenda_RS.
Last SlideNext Slide
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/09/01/california-wildifres-firefighter-who-died-mom-working-son/5688172002/