Man from Downers Grove among victims of Wash. state wildfire

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CHELAN, Wash. — Authorities say three firefighters killed and four injured were overrun by flames as they battled blazes in the same area of Washington state.

The Forest Service identified the fallen firefighters as Andrew Zajac, 26; Tom Zbyszewski and Richard Wheeler, 31.

According to family members, Andrew Zajac is from Downers Grove and was fighting fires out west for his second year.  He’s married and described as a hardworking, outdoorsman and athlete who will long be a part of their happy family memories.

Zajac is a graduate from Downers Grove North High School.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers says the three who died were in a vehicle that crashed but that the “crash did not kill them.” His office was investigating the scene Thursday, then will turn it over to federal investigators, who will try to determine how the fire overran the firefighters.

Rogers says homes burned Wednesday night in the Twisp and Winthrop areas, about 115 miles northeast of Seattle, but he did not know how many.

He says it was “a nightmare” that night and that “everything was burning.”

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

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