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Firefighter on Placer County's North Fire dies in Interstate 80 crash

By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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A bulldozer operator and father of four, bulldozer operator Tony Flores was killed in a crash on Interstate 80 while driving to the North Fire command post Tuesday at Blue Canyon.

Flores, 37, was an employee of Kent Siller Trucking and a lifelong resident of the Yuba City area, the Tahoe National Forest reported.

The crash took place at about 5:45 a.m. just east of Blue Canyon. Flores was assigned to the North Fire as a private contractor operating a bulldozer. He is survived by his wife of 18 years and four children, ranging in age from 9 to 16 years.

Incident commander Curtis Coots said that all firefighters working on the North Fire are deeply saddened by the death of a fellow firefighter.

"This has been an extremely tough fire season for our firefighters both physically and emotionally," Coots said.

Antonio "Tony" Flores had worked for Kent Siller Trucking for more than 20 years as a master mechanic and heavy equipment operator.

Neil Siller, spokesman for the company, said Flores was like a brother and son to the Siller family.

"He had an outstanding work ethic," Siller said. "He was our 'go to guy' on all types of projects."

For the past three years, Flores had worked on fires as a bulldozer operator for the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire.

The cause of the crash was under investigation by the California Highway Patrol and Placer County Sheriff's Office.

The North Fire has been burning for more than a week southeast of Blue Canyon in the Tahoe National Forest.