A Washington man died of a heart attack this weekend while fighting to save his Okanogan County home from a wildfire, The Associated Press reported Monday morning.
Rob Koczewski, 67, was trying to defend his home in Carlton, in northern Washington’s Methow Valley, from the Carlton Complex fire. Koczewski was a retired U.S. Marine Koczewski and WSP trooper “who was very close with local law enforcement,” The Associated Press said.
Lightning ignited the four fires that make up the Carlton Complex on July 14; the latest updates have the complex at more than 237,000 acres. At last count, some of the fires had destroyed at least 150 homes, many of which were in the small town of Pateros.
The Carlton Complex fire in central Washington state grew massively on Saturday, and officials say that some of the complex’s four fires have destroyed 150 homes.
As of Sunday morning the fire burned more than 299,000 acres, having grown from roughly 215,000 acres the day before, local media reported. It is zero percent contained, officials said on Sunday.
The fire leveled many homes in the small town of Pateros, and forced evacuations of other towns in the Methow Valley. It has shut down phone and internet connections for many of the area’s businesses and residents.
Lighting ignited the fires on July 14. Fueled by drought, heat and extreme winds the fires continued to spread last week, sending smoke across most of the Western United States.
The complex is one of several burning in Washington (including the Chiwaukum Complex) which is currently the nation’s top priority when it comes to fire suppression, the National Interagency Fire Center said on Friday. Two C-130s equipped with MAFFS units have been called up to the fight the fires, including a DC-10, which was seen dropping retardant on the Carlton Complex on Saturday.
The entire town of Pateros in northwestern Washington along the Columbia River, population just under 700, was evacuated this week as the Carlton Complex fire roared through. The latest reports indicate that at least 100 homes have been destroyed by the fire, and by mid-day Friday pictures of the devastation started to appear on social media.