The raging Washington wildfires have claimed the lives of three firefighters.
According to Fox News, the three U.S. Forest Service firefighters were killed on Wednesday, August 19 after their vehicle crashed and caught flames while they were battling the intense flames near Twisp, Washington, Brian Schaeffer with the Spokane Fire Department confirmed.
“The firefighters were engaged in initial attack operations and were involved in a vehicle accident when it is believed that the fire overtook the vehicle,” the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest said in a statement early on Thursday morning.
Learning that firefighters who died today were in a vehicle accident when it’s believed the fire overtook them. RIP.
— Natasha Chen (@NatashaKIRO7) August 20, 2015
“We are devastated by the tragic loss of three of our Forest Service firefighters,” said Mike Williams, Forest Supervisor on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, according to CBS affiliate, KREM 2. “We are working with County and State partners to notify the families of those lost. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and fellow crew members of these brave firefighters.”
Four other firefighters were injured while fighting the Washington wildfire, at least one critically. One of the firefighters works with the U.S. Forest Service, two are with DNR, and one is a contractor with DNR. One of the men was taken to the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle to receive treatment. He was listed as being in critical condition, a nursing supervisor at the hospital said. Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said that all four men were expected to survive their injuries. It is not immediately known if they were traveling in the same vehicle as the deceased.
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) August 20, 2015
“I was just told that three firefighters died while battling the Twisp fire and four were injured,” said Governor Jay Inslee in a written statement that was sent out on Wednesday afternoon.
“My heart breaks over the loss of life. I know all Washington joins me and Trudi in sending our prayers to the families of these brave firefighters. They gave their lives to protect others. It was their calling, but the loss for their families is immense and I know the community will come together to support them. We will also keep the injured firefighters in our prayers. The conditions throughout the area remain extremely dangerous and I hope residents and visitors will heed evacuation orders or other emergency directions.”
As of Thursday morning, the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said the Twisp River fire had grown to 16,000 acres. It is currently threatening 50 to 100 homes as well as the town of Twisp. Later that day, evacuations were ordered for the town of Winthrop.
[Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images]