Local Firefighters Honor Fallen 10-Year Cal Fire Veteran

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MONDAY -- As firefighters continued to battle the 9,000-acre Ferguson Fire near Yosemite Monday they mourned the death of one of their own.

On a path lined with American flags, fire trucks and salutes, one fallen firefighter was honored during an hours-long procession.

Monday afternoon, Braden Varney's body was escorted from Mariposa County to the Stanislaus County Coroner's Office in Modesto as fellow firefighters paid their respects.

The 36-year-old was a husband and father of two young children.

He worked as a heavy equipment operator for Cal Fire and was a 10-year veteran.

Varney was fighting the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite over the weekend when his bulldozer rolled over, killing him. The fire burned in an area so remote and so steep crews weren't able to recover Varney's body until Monday.

"Obviously we had the tragic loss of a dozer operator in that area. So it's very steep and very rugged," said Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Battalion Chief Kiley Keely as local crews headed to the front lines of the blaze.

By the evening Monday, the procession ended in Modesto with a line of firefighters standing by and supporting one of their own.

Yosemite National Park remained open to visitors Monday but the first round of mandatory evacuations were issued. All trails, campgrounds, restaurants and lodges are open. The firefight was also not over, with just 2 percent containment.


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