Smoke rises from a wildfire that killed three firefighters near Twisp, Washington, on 19 August 2015. Photo: NBC Right Now

By Rob Kauder
19 August 2015

SPOKANE, Washington (KXLY) – Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Wednesday evening three firefighters have been killed and three to four more have been injured while battling raging wildfires.

Rogers called the dire situation these firefighters faced near Twisp a “Hell Storm,” with the fire racing across the ground, being blown in all directions by the winds. He confirmed the people who died were on the fire lines fighting the fire when they died.

“We know the firefighters that were injured and the firefighters that were killed in this thing, they were up here fighting an active fire,” he said. “Where they were at was active fire. We do know three to four, could have been even more we just know three to four that we were told did receive burns and we know about the three confirmed deaths because we're on scene now.”

Officials know who the firefighters are who were killed and they have talked with their command staff. The plan now is to notify their families. […]

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Gov. Jay Inslee said his heart is broken over the loss of life and that conditions remain extremely dangerous.

“I was just told that three firefighters died while battling the Twisp fire and four were injured. … The conditions throughout the area remain extremely dangerous and I hope residents and visitors will heed evacuation orders or other emergency directions,” Inslee said in a statement.

Earlier in the day authorities urged Twisp residents to evacuate because of a fast-moving wildfire. The Okanogan County Emergency Management department issued the order for the town of roughly 900 people Wednesday afternoon and firefighters braced for high winds in the forecast through Friday that threatened to stoke wildfires burning across Eastern Washington.

Meanwhile back in Olympia, Gov. Inslee has requested a federal emergency declaration to provide additional resources to cover some of costs related to multiple wildfires burning in Eastern Washington.

Right now, 11 counties and four tribes are threatened or affected by fires, which have burned 50 homes, 60 outbuildings and other structures and more than 235,000 acres.

“Our communities are still healing from last year’s fires,” Inslee said. [more]

Three killed, four injured fighting 'Hell Storm’ near Twisp

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