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Slain one-time firefighter remembered by friends

By Tracey Leong, tleong@krcrtv.com
Published On: Jan 08 2014 02:55:00 PM CST
REDDING, Calif. -

Eric Ratledge’s friend described him as a very kind man who was always full of life.

Kyle Mclean said it is still hard to believe his friend is gone.

“He lit up any room he walked into with his sense of humor and charismatic personality,” said Mclean.

Mclean says his 31-year-old friend was a firefighter for Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression in Redding.

Ratledge also had a one-year-old son.

On Nov. 3, 2013, Ratledge’s body was found burned beyond recognition in Millville. On Tuesday, a DNA test confirmed his identification, news his friends didn’t want to hear.

“Last month or so just been hopes and prayers that it might not be but it was kind of known,“ said Mclean.

The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Ratledge’s death as a homicide. Mclean said it is a tragic situation and his prayers are with Ratledge’s friends and family.

“Whether he was being a friend or father or being an employee he was very full of life and put every ounce of himself forward in anything he did,” said Mclean.

Mclean says his last encounter with Ratledge was just a week before his body was found, not knowing it would be his final goodbye.

“I did hug him and told him I loved him like always, I had no idea it would be the last time I spoke with him but I got the same in response,” said Mclean.

Mclean is working with Ratledge’s friends and family to make arrangements for a memorial service.