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Ventura County firefighter is killed while driving to Canyon fire at Vandenberg Air Force Base

A Ventura County firefighter was killed and another was injured early Wednesday in a rollover crash near Lompoc as the pair were hauling water to the Canyon fire at Vandenberg Air Force Base. 

The firefighters were assigned to a water tender by the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services and headed to the 12,353-acre wildfire about 6:20 a.m., when the rollover crash occurred on the westbound California 246, said Capt. Mike Lindbery, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

The water tender struck a curb within a roundabout at Purisima Road, causing the truck to overturn, according to the California Highway Patrol. The firefighters were wearing seat belts.

When CHP officers arrived, they found the firefighter trapped in the passenger seat inside the water tender. 

The Ventura County Fire Department identified him as fire engineer Ryan Osler.

The second firefighter, who has not been identified, was taken to an area hospital, Lindbery said. He suffered minor injuries, authorities said.

The firefighters were among more than 1,000 personnel assigned to the massive blaze.

On Tuesday, Air Force officials said fire crews were making progress on the wildfire, but officials are concerned that increased winds later this week could rekindle flames.

The blaze has remained active along the northern portion, but cooler temperatures allowed firefighters to build lines around the fire, Air Force officials said in a statement Wednesday. The fire is 50% contained.

Using infrared heat detection, an aircraft was expected to fly over the Canyon fire overnight to determine whether firefighters had made significant gains, Air Force officials said.

The wildfire, which started Saturday in a remote canyon, has knocked out power to several buildings and has halted railway service through the sprawling base. Four firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling the blaze: two on Sunday and two on Monday, officials said.

Northwest winds Wednesday are expected to push the fire toward already-scorched areas, allowing crews to amp their firefighting efforts.

“Fire crews will concentrate their efforts from the northwest portion of the fire area in order to stem the fire’s spread in that direction, and to provide additional protection for the base’s space launch complexes,” the Air Force said in a statement.

But increased winds Thursday could kick up flames, so Air Force officials said fire crews will be monitoring any hot spots.

Vandenberg Fire Department Assistant Chief Wayne Seda on Tuesday said crews have been making plans to defend its “critical assets,” including the Atlas V rocket, which was scheduled to take off Sunday and carry a commercial satellite to space.

He said the rocket was not in danger, although “it’s a concern.”

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

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UPDATES:

11:35 a.m.: This article was updated with information about the fire’s acreage and containment.

10:40 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the fatal crash.

9:50 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the fire and with the name of the deceased firefighter.

9:20 a.m.: This article was updated with information about a Ventura County firefighter killed in a rollover accident.

This article was originally published at 6:55 a.m.

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