May God be with all the families and those still fighting…
Three firefighters killed battling raging wildfires in Washington state were being mourned Friday across the state and the country, even as thinly stretched crews were joined by private citizens as they battled more than 100 fires in five states across the west.
The men who died battling the Washington blaze, Tom Zbyszewki, 20, Andrew Zajac, 26 and Richard Wheeler, 31 were members of an elite crew that scoped out the size of a wildfire before other firefighters were sent in. Their vehicle crashed Wednesday and, before they could escape, flames rolled over them. Four other firefighters nearby were injured, one critically.
The fatalities came as some 29,000 firefighters, including responders from as far away as New Zealand, joined local crews in their struggles against fires that have consumed 11,000 square miles so far. Most of the ravaged land has been in Alaska, but an increase in fires in the Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington and California has caused competition for firefighting resources with some requests going unmet.