(KTXL) — The United States Forest Service has announced the deaths of two employees assigned to wildfires in California.
Marcus Pacheco and Allen Johnson, both referred to as heroes in the firefighting community, died from illness, the agency said Sunday in a news release.
Pacheco, an assistant fire engine operator for Lassen National Forest with 30 years of experience, died on Thursday. He was assigned to the Dixie Fire and was very active in the Forest Service and community, officials said.
“From school education programs to fighting fire, Marcus always showed up and lent a hand,” the news release said. “Marcus will be mourned by all that knew and cared for him.”
Johnson, a retired firefighter with 40 years of experience in the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region, was hired to help in the French Fire response. He died from COVID-19 complications as he “was working to protect life and property during the unprecedented fire year,” the Forest Service said.
“Allen was known as a mentor and friend for any that had the opportunity to cross paths with him. He was best known as a giver and a leader, both personally and professionally. Allen was loved and respected by all who knew him,” the Forest Service said.
The agency did not release further information about their deaths.
“Losing any member of our Forest Service family is a heartbreak for each one of us – let alone two in one week. Words cannot express the sorrow felt across the federal firefight community, and for the loved ones and friends of these two men,” the agency said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.