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Remembering Charlie Morton - Memorial service information: Friday 9/25/20 11A.M. PST

Firefighter coming out of tent
Charlie Morton, squad boss, Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew

*Editor’s note: Memorial service for Charles Morton, Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Squad Boss, San Bernardino National Forest

Date:  Friday, September 25, 2020
Time:  11:00 a.m. PST
Physical Location:  The Rock Church, 2345 S. Waterman Ave., San Bernardino, CA


Cards and condolences: Morton Family, P.O. Box 63564, Irvine, CA 92602. For FedEx and/or UPS: 1 League # 63564, Irvine, CA 92602 in care of “Support for Charlie.”

Other Key Info:

Because of space limitations due to COVID restrictions, the memorial will be live-streamed on the church’s website and YouTube channel. The service will be shared on the San Bernardino National Forest Facebook page as well.

Employees on duty are authorized to watch the memorial with approval from their supervisor. For those attending in-person, social distancing and face masks are required, per County and State guidelines.

Dear Forest Service employees,

Local efforts to support the firefighter fatality that occurred last Thursday, September 17th, have progressed and we are now able to share more information with you. Tragically, Charlie Morton, squad boss on the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew, died during suppression activates on the El Dorado Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest in California. The Big Bear Hotshots are local to the San Bernardino National Forest.

Charlie joined the San Bernardino National Forest in 2007 and worked on both the Front Country and Mountaintop ranger districts, for the Mill Creek Interagency Hotshots, Engine 31, Engine 19 and the Big Bear Interagency Hotshots. His family has asked us to share, “Charlie is survived by his wife and daughter, his parents, two brothers, cousins and friends. He’s loved and will be missed. May he rest easy in heaven with his baby boy.”
The loss of an employee in the line of duty is one of the hardest things we face in our Forest Service family. Certainly, this is true for me as your Chief. Our hearts go out to Charlie’s coworkers, friends and loved ones. Charlie was a well-respected firefighter and leader who was always there for his squad and his crew at the toughest times. We will keep the Big Bear Hotshots and the San Bernardino National Forest employees and community in our thoughts and prayers.

Now, more than ever, we are reminded of the truly honorable work and sacrifices made by our wildland fire employees. They commit themselves each day, for weeks and months on end, to protecting lives and supporting communities around the country, in service to their fellow Americans. Our nation owes them all a debt of gratitude. 

We are still learning about the circumstances surrounding Charlie’s passing. We will provide information on plans for services and expressions of condolence as soon as they become available. But for now, I extend my deepest sympathies to Charlie’s coworkers, friends and loved ones. Again, they will remain in our thoughts and prayers. 

I ask us all to anchor to our core values as an agency, especially at this time of extraordinary fire activity across the West Coast, the likes of which we have never seen. During these difficult times, please remember our interdependence as we reach out to support each other. 

Thank you all for your care and support for Charlie’s family, for his coworkers and for each other. And, as always, thank you for the work you do every day for the benefit of the lands entrusted to our care on behalf of the people we serve.

Please also find below a heartfelt message from Secretary Sonny Perdue, which he has asked me to share with you.

Chief Christiansen



Dear Forest Service family, 

It is with deep sadness that I convey the news of the tragic loss of one of our own—U.S. Forest Service firefighter Charlie Morton. 

Charlie died in the line of duty, fighting the El Dorado Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest in southern California. Serving as a squad boss with the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew, Charlie was known as a true leader. His passing will be mourned deeply by his colleagues, friends and family.

In honor of Charlie’s life and sacrifice, I have ordered all USDA facilities to fly flags at half-staff for one week.

Forest Service employees embody a spirit of service, and Charlie gave his life in service to his fellow Americans. In the difficult days ahead, I hope you will anchor in your core value of interdependence, depending on one another to face this trying time together. Please know your OneUSDA family is behind you all the way. 

I ask all of you to join Mary and me in keeping Charlie’s family, friends and coworkers in your thoughts and prayers.

God bless all of you who serve.

Secretary Sonny