The U.S. Forest Service on Thursday identified the three firefighters who have been killed fighting a fast-growing wildfire in Washington state as Tom Zbyszewski, 20, Andrew Zajac, 26, and Richard Wheeler, 31.
The males, all members of an engine crew from Okanogan-Wenatchee nationwide woodland in main Washington, died Wednesday after their car crashed and ended up being overtaken by flames near the city of Twisp. The fire spread quickly and erratically, driven by wind and feeding on drought-parched land, the company said.
The men's figures stayed during the scene overnight Wednesday so detectives could gather evidence. Early Thursday evening, these were eliminated in individual ambulances in procession escorted by fire and authorities cars with lights flashing, as firefighters along the way endured in a cordon due to their helmets over their hearts.
"it had been extremely moving, " Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers stated. "It really is tough once you cope with this and then you deliver these young men straight back call at this. It's constant, and it also wears you down."
Zbyszewski was a physics major at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, and had been fighting wildfires come early july to boost money for school, his parents, each of who have also worked for the woodland provider, told NBC News.
"He enjoyed Whitman and Walla Walla. He just liked that university, " said Zbyszewski's mommy, Jennifer, a recreation management professional for woodland Service.
"I was currently happy with him as a mom, but then to see him at work to check out simply how much men and women liked and recognized him — I was so happy as a mother, " she stated.
Zbyszewski 's dad, Rick, a former woodland Service firefighter, called their son, who was a straight-A pupil, "an unique kid."
Tom Zbyszewski, 20, was among the firefighters killed when you look at the Twisp fire in Washington. He is seen here together with parents Rick and Jennifer Zbyszewski. Courtesy Zbyszewski family members
"School was the primary focus of his life — academics and household, " Rick Zbyszewski stated. "i am actually probably miss Tom."
Jennifer Zbyszewski stated the household don't blame the Forest Service on her boy's demise.
"they are just an amazing group of people that are really, extremely hardworking and uncompromising when it comes to protection, " she said.
"They always took protection to heart. We understand they never would have placed Tom in damage's means, but we realize fires are occasionally unpredictable."