(Reuters) – Three firefighters in Washington state were killed and four injured while battling a wildfire threatening the north-central town of Twisp, Governor Jay Inslee said on Wednesday.
The deaths came as a fast-moving wildfire forced authorities late on Wednesday to order the evacuations of Twisp and Winthrop, towns in the foothills of the Cascade mountains, Okanogan County Emergency Management said on Facebook.
“I was just told that three firefighters died while battling the Twisp fire and four were injured,” Inslee said in a statement.
More than a dozen massive fires have blackened more than 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) across the arid Western region, prompting fire managers to call in help from the U.S. Army and abroad to reinforce civilian crews.
This week, the national year-to-date tally of area burned passed 7 million acres (2.9 million hectares). That figure had not been reached so early in the year for two decades.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho and Courtney Sherwood in Portland, Oregon; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Writing and additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)