Services for South Dakota firefighter killed in California
RAPID CITY (AP) — A Rapid City firefighter and avid outdoorsman who died fighting a wildfire in California will be honored in a procession, memorial service and funeral in South Dakota starting this weekend.
David Ruhl, 38, was on temporary assignment with the Big Valley Ranger District of the Modoc National Forest when he went missing Thursday in hazardous fire conditions. His body was found a day later. The U.S. Forest Service said he died of carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation.
A procession and memorial service are scheduled Sunday afternoon in Rapid City. His funeral is Monday morning at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has ordered flags in South Dakota be flown at half-staff on Monday in Ruhl's honor.
Ruhl is survived by his wife, Erin, and two children. Erin Ruhl said in a statement that her husband "loved to hunt, ski, bike and hike, and the Forest Service fit him to a 'T.'
"He made lasting friends from all over and had an awesome sense of humor," she said.
In South Dakota, Ruhl was the engine captain on the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest. He previously had worked in the Pierre area.
"He was definitely passionate about being a firefighter and being a good firefighter," said Ryan Cumbow, engine captain for the firefighting crew assigned to the Fort Pierre National Grassland and Ruhl's former supervisor when Ruhl worked on that crew.
"I always thought Dave was easy to train, and he picked up on things very quickly," Cumbow told the Rapid City Journal. "He always watched out for everybody. He was always cognizant of what was happening around him."