TWISP, WA (August 19, 2015) – Jeff Palmberg, pastor of Community Covenant Church, said that he and other people forced to evacuate their homes today due to a fast-moving wildfire are most concerned for the families of the three U.S. Forest Service firefighters who were killed and four others who were injured battling the blaze.
“We’ve heard that they are local boys,” Palmberg said. “There are a lot of folks up here who fight fires to earn extra income.”
The names of the firefighters have not been released.
Emergency officials today ordered the 3,000 residents of Twisp and nearby Winthrop to evacuate immediately. Palmberg and several other families in the church have moved in with another family from the congregation that lives 15 miles south of the town, he said.
Palmberg said he believed the evacuation order was probably precautionary, explaining that, “When we were in town it didn’t look that close.”
The fire started Wednesday outside of Twisp in an area where Palmberg said the winds can whip around and shift direction quickly. The firefighters were killed Wednesday afternoon when they became trapped after the winds shifted.
Fighting the fire is expected to become increasingly difficult. Forecasters predict that the winds will pick up on Thursday, and no rain or moisture is anticipated in the near future.
At least 15 large fires are now burning throughout Washington, according to news reports.