Firefighter dies after suffering medical emergency on training hike

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DE LUZ, Calif. -- A Cal Fire firefighter died Monday after suffering a serious medical emergency while on a training hike with his crew over the weekend, authorities said.

Yaroslav Katkov, 28, was hiking with his crew members from Cal Fire San Diego Station 16 in De Luz when he suffered an unspecified medical emergency. Katkov was airlifted to Temecula Valley Hospital in Riverside, where he was listed in critical condition until he died Monday morning.

“It’s being taken as the loss of a family member," Cal Fire Capt. Isaac Sanchez told FOX 5.

Sanchez said Katkov is being remembered as someone who was dedicated to serving others as a first responder.

"A driven individual that absolutely loved the fire service," Sanchez said. "Someone that was incredibly proud of his role in the agency."

Katkov joined Cal Fire last August as a seasonal firefighter. He is survived by his mother, father and brother.

"On behalf of all Californians, Jennifer and I extend our sincere condolences to Cal Fire firefighter Yaroslav Katkov's family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. "It's the work of brave firefighters like Yaroslav that keep our communities safe, and we are deeply grateful for his service."

To honor his memory, San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff at all Cal Fire facilities. Firefighters wore black bands over their badges as a sign of mourning.

Flags will be raised after Katkov's memorial service, which has yet to be announced, Sanchez said.

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