The four U.S. Forest Service firefighters who were overtaken by the Twisp River Fire Aug. 19 did all they could but couldn’t have saved themselves under the prevailing conditions.
That’s the opinion of Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers, whose office did its own investigation. The incident ended in the deaths of three of the firefighters and serious burns to the fourth, who remains hospitalized.
The U.S. Forest Service is conducting its own, internal review and expects to issue a final report this spring. Two other federal agencies are also investigating.
“In my opinion, there was nothing that could have been done,” Rogers said in a voice mail Friday while on a hunting trip. “The weather was weird that day. The fire was busy. The wind did a 180-degree shift that day. Nobody expected it. They were in there trying to get people out. Protect homes. I think they did everything they were trained to do, and it just went terribly wrong. Officially, it will be the Forest Service’s decision. As for us, it was death caused by wildfire.”