Firefighter from West Michigan killed in Washington wildfires

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TWISP, Wash. -- A 31-year-old firefighter originally from West Michigan has died while fighting the wildfires in Washington state.

Richard Wheeler, a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, was killed Wednesday near the town of Twisp after his vehicle became engulfed in flames, according to the South Haven Fire Department.  Two other people in the vehicle were also killed.

KCPQ has identified the other two firefighters as 20-year-old Tom Zbyszewski and 26-year-old Andrew Zajac.

The firefighters were based out of Methow Valley in north-central Washington.   KCPQ reports that they were battling the Twisp River Fire, which is part of an 80,000-acre fire in Okanogan County.

Wheeler, a South Haven native, was a fourth-generation firefighter.  Officials with the South Haven Fire Department tell FOX 17 that Wheeler's father, grandfather and great grandfather were all firefighters in South Haven.

 

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