The Carr Fire was burning near Redding. In preparation for the possible arrival of the fire into Redding, all available off-duty Redding firefighters were called to duty on July 26, 2018. Fire Engineer Stoke responded to that request and reported to duty that day at approximately 1600hrs.
Redding firefighters and officers, including Fire Engineer Stoke, met at 1830hrs that day for a briefing. After the briefing, Fire Engineer Stoke was assigned to respond into areas of Redding that were in danger of being overrun by the fire and conduct evacuations of homeowners and others in those areas. He operated his assigned Redding Fire Department vehicle, a Ford F150 pickup truck.
As Fire Engineer Stoke conducted evacuations, he was trapped by a rapidly progressing fire front. According to a report from CAL FIRE, he reported his situation by radio and called for assistance. Fire Engineer Stoke was overrun by a rarely documented "fire vortex". This vortex was later determined to have wind speeds in excess of 165 miles per hour, equivalent to an F-3 tornado.
At approximately 2000hrs the local communications agency advised the Fire Chief that Fire Engineer Stoke was not answering his fire radio, the law enforcement radio, or his cell phone. A search of the burned areas ensued with members of the Redding Fire Department, Redding Police Department, CAL FIRE, and the Shasta County Sheriff.
At approximately 0330hrs on July 27, 2018, the Redding Fire Marshal located Fire Engineer Stoke off the roadway.
Fire Engineer Stoke was found a short distance from his burned vehicle. From physical evidence at the scene and information provided by a California Highway Patrol vehicle crash reconstruction team, Fire Engineer Stoke and his vehicle were carried over 100 yards from the roadway by the vortex winds. The cause of death was listed as blunt trauma.
Incident Location: Carr Fire, Shasta County, California