Forest Service identifies injured, dead firemen

The flag flies at half-staff today at Mid Valley Hospital in honor of the three firemen who died in the Twisp River Fire yesterday.

Photo by Al Camp
The flag flies at half-staff today at Mid Valley Hospital in honor of the three firemen who died in the Twisp River Fire yesterday.

— Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest officials have released the names of the firemen killed and injured yesterday afternoon.

The three fallen U.S. Forest Service firemen who perished are:

  • Tom Zbyszewski, 20, of Walla Walla (formerly of Carlton)
  • Andrew Zajac, 26, of Winthrop (formerly of Downers Grove, Ill.)
  • Richard Wheeler, 31

Daniel Lyon, 25, of Puyallup, was critically injured and is being treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Zbyszewski, a student at Whiteman College in Walla Walla, previously worked as a lifeguard at Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp, according to his Facebook page. He was also active in community theater.


Tom Zbyszewski


Andrew Zajac

“We are mourning the loss of Tom, Andrew, and Richard and are in connection with and closely monitoring the recovery process of Daniel,” Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Supervisor Mike Williams said. “This was a tragic incident, and our hearts go out to their families, friends, and colleagues.”

Lyon remains in intensive care, Harborview officials confirmed.

In a prepared statement, the medical center said: “He has burns to approximately 60 percent of his body. He arrived to Harborview’s Emergency Department last night (Aug. 19). His family is not doing any interviews at this time and appreciates the support from the community.”

The Forest Service is sending a critical stress management team to meet with employees in the wake of the three deaths.

Congressman Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, offered his "deepest condolences to the loved ones of the three firefighters who fell in the line of duty."

Newhouse represents Okanogan County as part of the 4th Congressional District.

"We mourn their loss and honor their sacrifice ... and we pray for the safety of those who continue to fight the fires, protecting the lives and property of our neighbors," he said. "I encourage local residents to take every precaution as conditions remain dangerous."

The deaths have also generated concern in Washington, D.C., and from President Obama.

"The president was updated this evening on the wildfires plaguing the American West, including the tragic loss of three Washington State firefighters who selflessly battled these fires. On behalf of a grateful nation, the President's thoughts and prayers are with the families of these brave Americans," an administration spokesman said.

"The President directed his team to stay in close touch with state and local officials as their efforts to fight these fires continue," the spokesman said. "Administration officials will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide Federal assistance as necessary."


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