Three U.S. Forest Service firefighters were burned to death and three others were injured Wednesday afternoon while fighting a small fire in Central Washington. Around 1.1 million acres were reported to have been consumed by more than a hundred wildfires, forcing two nearby towns to evacuate.
Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers told media they received reports around 4:30 p.m. and they were told the victims were extracted from the scene. An hour later, it was confirmed that the victims died. At 6:30 p.m., the coroner was already at the scene. Brian Schaeffer from Spokane Fire Department confirmed the victims were Forest Service firefighters.
According to reports, the three firefighters were fighting a small fire when winds suddenly shifted directions, heading towards Twisp and Winthrop towns and began a new fire.
“The new fire is separate from the mammoth Chelan Complex of five fires on the eastern edge of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest,” a report from MSNBC says.
There were already “more than 70 structures” destroyed in the fire at Chelan Complex and as of Wednesday, only 50 percent was contained.
‘No break in the hot, dry weather’
Spokesman for Joint Incident Team Kale Casey told NBC they were concerned about the weather. “We’ve had no break in the hot, dry weather. We’re going to see probably some impressive fire behavior in the next couple days.”
Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement addressing the casualties in Twisp on Wednesday.
“I was just told that three firefighters died while battling the Twisp fire and four were injured. 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,” wrote Inslee.
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