Calif. Responder Succumbs to Infection

A California fire department has been shaken by the loss of an “energetic” firefighter who succumbed to a mysterious infection.

Cosumnes CSD Firefighter/EMT Richard E. Ibarra, 43, died Dec. 16 at UC Davis Medical Center, said Battalion Chief John Michellini.

Ibarra was stricken with “an aggressive infection that compromised his pulmonary system,” Michellini said in a telephone interview Friday morning.

“Doctors and epidemiologists have not identified the source or nature of the infection,” he said.

Fire officials also have launched their own probe, and are examining the calls that Ibarra responded to recently.

No other firefighters have been stricken, Michellini said.

Classifying it as an occupational exposure, the department is considering it as a line-of-duty death, Michellini said, adding that officials are notifying the USFA as such. The USFA has not included Ibarra yet on its on-duty death list.

Before joining the fire department in 1999, Ibarra served in the U.S. Navy for four years.

Michellini said Ibarra was well-liked. “He was a very nice guy always smiling…”

Ibarra worked C shift at Stations 71 and 73 with the same crew just about his whole career. And, he also was a rescue technician with the search and rescue team.

Michellini said this is the first LODD for the department located in Elk Grove.

Funeral Arrangements

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 21 at First Baptist Church in Elk Grove.

There will be no visitation, and interment will be private.

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