HOLLISTER – Fellow firefighters say they’ll remember Matthew Will – who died Tuesday from injuries received while fighting a fire in Big Sur – as a diligent worker and dependable friend.
“Any time of day or night, you could call him,” said firefighter Mike Daly, who took part in a press conference Wednesday with other members of Cal Fire’s San Benito-Monterey Unit.
Speaking at the Hollister Air Attack Base, Battalion Chief Mark Edria described Will, who was 30, as an “old soul,” saying “you almost forgot how young he was.”
Will, who served with Cal Fire, the state’s wildland firefighting agency, for almost five years, was clearing brush and flammable vegetation Monday to help contain a 50-acre fire in Palo Colorado Canyon. Cal Fire said he lost control of his bulldozer on a steep hill, causing it to overturn, and died of his injuries the next morning at the San Jose Regional Medical Center.
Cal Fire is investigating the cause of the accident.
The last Cal Fire firefighters to die in the line of duty were Robert Stone and George Willett, whose plane crashed in Tulare County in September 2006.
Although Will spent much of his time operating heavy equipment, he also worked in the control tower at the Hollister Air Attack Base, helping with radio communication and aircraft control.
“Matt was tech-savvy,” Edria said. “He loved to work.”
Will was working overtime when the bulldozer accident happened. Earlier this year, he helped fight the Moonlight fire in Plumas County and the Big Bear fire in Southern California.
This summer, he completed a six-week training course at the Cal Fire Academy in Ione.
He is survived by his wife, Diana; son, Trysten, 10; and daughter, Elsie, 8, all of Hollister.