Former Colfax, Washington Fire Chief dies while fighting wildfire

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He had served with the department for 52 years

Jim Krouse
Jim Krouse. Photo: Colfax FD.

The Fire Department in Colfax, Washington released information about a line of duty death that occurred over the weekend:

Longtime Colfax Fire Chief Jim Krouse, who had served as Colfax chief for 40 years and a volunteer in Colfax for 52 years, died from an apparent heart attack Saturday afternoon while responding to his fourth call of the day.

Krouse was responding around 3 pm to a wildfire on Green Hollow Road and was pulling hose at the fire scene when he collapsed.

Colfax ambulance quickly responded and emergency medical care was given to Krouse on the scene and immediately transported to Whitman Medical Center in Colfax. Assistant Chief Craig Corbeill, who responded with the ambulance, said physicians worked on the former chief but they were not able to revive him.

Crews from several fire departments managed to control the fire.

Word quickly spread of Krouse’s passing. When the firefighters were finished they assembled at Whitman Medical Center and started the procession with the ambulance that carried Krouse’s body draped in an American flag to the Bruning Funeral Home escorted by Whitman County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington State Patrol.

Chief Michael Chapman met with his firefighters at the fire station, many of whom served with Krouse for a number of years, to help them debrief from the situation and to share stories about the former chief.

Chapman said there will be a critical incident debriefing in the next 24-72 hours for those on the scene today and those who served with Krouse for some of those 52 years.

Corbeill said that “Krouse was like a kid in a candy store” when he was making his fourth run Saturday, driving a water tender to the Green Hollow Road fire. Krouse who served as Colfax Chief from 1972 to 2010, followed his father, Earl, who was chief prior to Jim.

Because there was a fatality with the wildfire, fire marshal Chris Wehrung and Assistant Fire Marshal Tony Nuttman investigated the fire and to help determine the cause. At the time of this release, Nuttman, who is serving as the lead investigator, said the cause remains under investigation.

Final arrangements for Chief Krouse are pending at the Bruning Funeral Home in Colfax.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Dan.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “Former Colfax, Washington Fire Chief dies while fighting wildfire”

  1. My heart breaks for you all. Especially his family! May Jehovah’s Holy Spirit bring many good memories to share. I love Revelation 21:4, when no more pain or death will happen ever again. Then John 5:28,29 the wonderful hope of the resurrection and seeing our loved ones again. Again My condolences.
    Melanie Leal
    Carson WA


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