Fire commanders expect to declare full control today of the seven-day-old 2,700-acre Buck fire as officials investigate the death of an inmate who had been serving as a firefighter.
The lightning-sparked blaze, which broke out in the area of Sage and Lewis Valley roads in Sage on Tuesday, was 100 percent contained Friday, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. Crews spent Sunday improving containment lines and patrolling for hot spots, department spokeswoman Jody Hagemann said.
A Fenner Canyon Conservation Camp inmate died at Desert Regional Hospital Sunday, and his death is under investigation by Cal Fire and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The inmate, 44-year- old Jimmy Randolph, had been on firefighting duties.
"Prior to becoming ill on Saturday morning ..., Randolph had been assigned to the Buck fire in Hemet," according to a Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation statement. He died with his family at his bedside.
Randolph was serving an 8-year sentence for petty theft with priors and was scheduled for parole this October, according to the statement.
Fenner Canyon Conservation Camp, located in the Angeles National Forest in northeastern Los Angeles County, houses fewer than 150 minimum security inmates. Operated jointly by Cal Fire and the Department of Corrections, its "primary mission is to provide inmate fire crews to Cal Fire for fire suppression, pre-fire and hazardous fuel reduction projects in Los Angeles, Kern and San Bernardino Counties," the Department of Corrections statement said.
The Buck fire claimed five minor injuries, Hagemann said.