Nearly 2,000 pay tribute to fallen firefighter Cory Iverson
A photo provided by Cal Fire shows engineer Cory Iverson, right, with his wife, Ashley, and their daughter. Iverson, who worked for the department’s San Diego Unit as a member of a fire strike team, died Thursday, Dec. 14 while fighting the Thomas fire in Ventura.(Uncredited / AP)
Friends, family and fellow firefighters bade an emotional farewell Saturday to Cory Iverson, the 32-year-old San Diego County fireman who died battling the Thomas fire nine days ago near Fillmore.
About 1,800 filled the Rock Church in Point Loma to hear eulogies, highlighted by a promise from his widow, Ashley.
In a calm, determined voice, the mother of one daughter, now expecting another, recalled one of the last talks the couple had before Iverson left for the fire lines.
She said she expressed fear for his safety but also her wish to make a difference to others.
“My sweet husband left this earth not as a hero but in my eyes he left as a superhero,” she said, “a superhero that has given me the platform to make that difference. So today I will make one more vow to you, my love. I vow to make you proud. I am no longer a slave to fear.”
The Thomas fire, which broke out Dec. 4, has consumed 273,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, destroyed 1,073 structures and claimed one other death. It was 65% contained Saturday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham said it is too early to decide on a permanent memorial to Iverson.
But one early idea, inspired by Iverson’s love of the outdoors, is to build a trail in his honor where future firefighters could hike and learn about his devotion to duty.
Iverson apparently died of burns and smoke inhalation, but the details will not be known until a thorough investigation is completed in coming months, Mecham said.
In addition to his immediate family who live north of Escondido, Iverson is survived by his parents and stepfather, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins.
A family friend set up a GoFundMe page that so far has collected just short of $600,000 toward a $1-million goal.
The two-and-a-half-hour service began on a warm winter morning at the Liberty Station church.
Hundreds of firefighters and first responders from at least 40 agencies stood at attention alongside fire rigs parked on Truxtun Road, an American hanging from two ladder rigs at the entrance. It was a silent vigil, waiting for the family and urn carrying Iverson’s remains to arrive. Ashley Iverson walked slowly up the steps with her daughter, Evie, in her arms, saying “Thank you so much” to well wishers who followed her inside.
A bagpipe and drum corps led the color guard of flags into the sanctuary, after which Rock Church Pastor Miles McPherson said Iverson’s family wished that the service to be “party to celebrate his life.”
“We are here to celebrate not a fallen hero but a risen hero,” he said.
4:30 p.m.: This article was updated with new information about funeral service.
This article was originally posted at 9:35 a.m.
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