Three firefighters were killed and four others were injured, at least one critically, as wildfires advanced on towns in north-central Washington on Wednesday, officials said.
Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said the three deaths occurred in a wildfire on Department of Natural Resources land near Twisp. The firefighters were engaged in initial attack operations and were involved in a vehicle accident when it is believed that the fire overtook their vehicle, U.S. Forest Service said in a news release.
"We are devastated by the tragic loss of three of our Forest Service firefighters," said Mike Williams, Forest Supervisor on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. "We are working with County and State partners to notify the families of those lost. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and fellow crew members of these brave firefighters."
The Forest Service statement identified the four injured as two Department of Natural Resources employees, a DNR contractor, and one U.S. Forest Service worker.
Officials said no names or other information on the casualties was being released until relatives are notified.
One of those injured was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in critical condition, a nursing supervisor there said.
In an emailed statement, the White House said President Barack Obama had been apprised of the deaths. He directed the administration to stay in touch with state and local officials and to provide federal assistance as necessary.
"On behalf of a grateful nation, the president's thoughts and prayers are with the families of these brave Americans," said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.
Gov. Jay Inslee requested a federal emergency declaration to provide more help to pay for fighting the many wildfires burning in Washington state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report