Western Wildfires Turn Deadly

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Three members of an elite fire squad were killed fighting a raging “hell storm” in Washington State when the vehicle in which they were traveling was overcome by flames and crashed near the town of Twisp.

The three firefighters killed and two others, who were seriously injured and burned, were part of a special unit sent into the fire before others to assess the threat and determine depth, size and velocity of the fire.

The fallen firefighters have been identified by the Forest Service as Tom Zbyszewski, 20; Andrew Zajac, 26; and Richard Wheeler, 31. The names of the injured have not been released.

The death of the three firemen bring the total to 13 Washington state firefighters who have died in 2015.

 

Twisp, Washington, population 938, is located in the lower valley section of the state.

The fires have burned more than 252 square miles and have continue to intensify feed by shifting winds. The fires are merging and growing by more than 100 square miles per day. The blazes are burning essentially uncontrolled as they keep jumping the fire lines.