Yaroslav Igorevich Katkov died after suffering a heat-related emergency while on a training hike with his crew in San Diego County. Katkov was a seasonal firefighter with CAL Fire and was assigned to Station 16 in the unincorporated area of De Luz, northwest of Fallbrook. He lived in Murrieta.
Katkov was born in Eastern Europe in 1990, and his family relocated to Toronto, Canada, in 1994. They later moved to San Diego County, California, where he attended Scripps Ranch High School. An accomplished athlete, he competed in football and wrestling and was recognized for his character and leadership. He graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree in business and finance and received his real estate license before he decided to become a firefighter.
He attended the Miramar College Fire Technology Program, where he impressed his instructors with his enthusiasm, dedication, and passion. He was just starting his firefighting career at the time of his death.
Katkov was described by his family and friends as brave, kindhearted, positive, and outgoing. He valued experience over material things and was always up for an adventure.
Katkov is survived by his father, Igor Katkov; his mother, Nadia Katkova; his brother, Sam Katkov; and his partner, Ashley Vallario.
Firefighter Braden Gordie Varney, age 36, of the CAL-FIRE, died on July 14, 2018, after the bulldozer he was operating overturned and rolled down the ridge while he was working the 130-acre Ferguson Fire in the Sierra National Forest.
Firefighter/Bulldozer Operator Donald Ray Smith, age 82, of the CAL-FIRE, died on July 26, 2018, while operating his bulldozer and being overtaken by flames while battling the Carr Fire in Northern California.
Heavy Fire Equipment Mechanic, Andrew J. Brake, age 40, of the CAL-FIRE, died on August 9, 2018, when the CAL-FIRE support vehicle he was driving ran off the road. Andrew was on his ways to work the Carr Fire.
Fire Apparatus Engineer Cory D. Iverson, age 32, from CAL-Fire, died on December 14, 2017, after he became trapped by fire during the Thomas Fire near Fillmore, California.
Contract Firefighter Garrett Angel “Taco” Paiz, age 38, of CAL-Fire, died from injuries sustained in a vehicle accident on October 16, 2017, while driving an empty water tender to assist on the Nuns Wildfire.
Dozer Operator Robert Oliver Reagan III, age 35, of the CAL-FIRE, died on July 26, 2016, from injuries sustained when his dozer overturned during night-time operations at the Soberanes Fire.
Christopher L. Douglas, affectionately known as “Topher,” was born on November 19, 1971, and grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He moved to California in 1992 when he joined the United States Air Force (Vandenberg AFB) to work on Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.
Upon witnessing a car accident scene, Topher knew he wanted to pursue a firefighting career. After five years of volunteer, reserve, and paramedic service, he began work with CAL FIRE in 2004. He was promoted to fire apparatus engineer/paramedic in July of 2012. At his graduation ceremony he received the Carpe Diem Award, which was an honor (recognizing leadership) bestowed on him by his fellow classmates. In addition to his regular role as engineer/paramedic, Topher was responsible for heading the local CPR program.
Where some might cut corners, Topher put his entire being into every endeavor. He was dedicated to self-sacrifice in the effort to love and support his family and to help others. He valued his lifelong friendships and other passions—surfing, playing the guitar, cooking, working on cars, travel, and spending time with family.
While responding to a traffic accident, Topher was struck by a vehicle as it passed his stopped engine. Although his time here was cut far too short and his loved ones feel robbed of being with him longer, there is comfort in knowing he embodied the adage “living life to its fullest” and that Topher enjoyed several lifetimes of experiences in his 41 years.
Thankfully, Topher is survived by a wonderful little boy that looks just like him and a daughter (who he never had the opportunity to meet) that has his happy disposition. Topher’s legacy will continue through the indelible imprint he left on all those he knew and through the lives of his son and daughter. Topher will forever be remembered for his winning attitude, cheerful nature, funny sense of humor, and quite simply the best personality of anyone in a room.
We love you, Toph!
Children: Sammy (3 yrs) & Bridget (infant)
Chief Bryan Zollner was a committed‚ unselfish and knowledgeable member of the fire community who gave everything he had to make the world safe for others. He donated his home for use as a model in fire prevention materials distributed in the department’s statewide campaign for defensible space. He was greatly respected among firefighters and all who were lucky enough to have known him. Bryan came from a family with a legacy of firefighting. His father was a fire chief for the City of Oroville; his great grandfather was a firefighter in Detroit. His son‚ Ty Zollner‚ is currently an engineer with CAL Fire.
Bryan started as a sleeper firefighter in the Butte Unit while attending Butte Community College. In 1981‚ he was hired as a seasonal firefighter by the Butte Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection‚ then known as CDF. He worked a year for the Oroville Fire Department as a fire protection operator before returning to CDF as a limited term Firefighter II in the Fresno-Kings Unit. In 1985‚ he returned to the Butte Unit as a limited term fire apparatus engineer with the Chico Battalion. He returned to CDF in 1986 as a permanent Firefighter II in Santa Clara Unit‚ received a quick promotion to fire apparatus engineer‚ and went to work at the Ramona Air Attack Base in San Diego. He was promoted three years later to fire captain at Bautista Conservation Camp in the Riverside Unit of CDF. He worked in the Riverside Unit at Home Gardens Station 13 and then Lake Hills Station 82. From there‚ he was promoted to Moreno Valley as Battalion Chief 9B.
In 2001‚ Bryan Zollner accepted the position of deputy chief with the public education office for CDF in Sacramento. In 2002‚ he came to Northern Region as deputy chief for conservation camp coordination and north ops operations. In 2005‚ he was named assistant chief operations in Tehama Glenn Unit. In 2006‚ he returned to Northern Region as staff chief for operations. Additionally‚ he worked on numerous incident command teams for CDF as an operations section chief‚ as a plans section chief‚ and was an incident commander. In 2003‚ Chief Zollner was on the incident command team on the Cedar Fire‚ a wind driven fire that ran through San Diego consuming land‚ property‚ and lives. Chief Zollner received the Medal of Valor in 1998 for an off-duty rescue of a child from a burning structure in Riverside.
Bryan Zollner is survived by his son‚ Ty Zollner; daughter-in-law Bailey Zollner; daughter Alexia Moore; son-in-law Charles Moore; two grandchildren; sister‚ Tracy Zollner; his parents‚ Bob and Brenda Zollner‚ of Oroville‚ California and Dr. Pamela Ikuta‚ of Redding‚ California.
Matt married Diana in 1997. They had two kids‚ Trysten and Elsie.
The Will’s moved to Hollister in 2003 and became part of the CalFire family. His humor was contagious-no one was spared. At 6′ tall‚ 240 pounds‚ Matt often mentioned his ‘girlish figure’.
On October 8‚ 2007 Matt was called to a fire in Monterey‚ CA. When Matt’s dozer rolled‚ he sustained head injuries and died the next day.
Matt’s family is proud that many of his organs were donated. On the job‚ he saved property and lives; later‚ he gave new life to 5 others.
Matt is missed every minute of every day by his wife‚ children‚ family‚ friends‚ co-workers‚ and a world that needs laughter and heroics.