Andrew G Zajac, Firefighter

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Firefighters Zajac, Wheeler, and Zbyszewski were assigned as a part of a 4-member crew to Engine 642 at the Twisp River Fire. The fire was caused by electrical power lines contacting vegetation.

Fire conditions changed rapidly and Engine 642 was forced to head for a pre-established safety zone in near-zero visibility. The engine left the roadway and came to a stop. Firefighters Zajac, Wheeler, and Zbyszewski were unable to escape the flames and were killed. The 4th firefighter was able to escape and received severe burns. The cause of death for Firefighters Firefighters Zajac, Wheeler, and Zbyszewski was burns and asphyxiation due to inhalation of products of combustion.

In November of 2015, The Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Forest Service released a report entitled “Twisp River Fire Fatalities & Entrapments - Learning Review Status Report” which contains a significant level of detail about the fire and the firefighter fatalities. The report is available through an internet search.

Incident location: Woods Canyon Rd, Twisp, WA (US National Grid: 10U GU 0414 6255)

Department information

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, Washington 98801

Chief: Forest Supervisor Mike Williams

Andrew G Zajac was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.
Age: 26
Rank: Firefighter
Classification: Wildland Part-Time
Incident date: August 19, 2015 15:00
Date of death: August 19, 2015
Cause of death: Caught or Trapped
Nature of death: Burns
Activity type: Driving/Operating Vehicle/Apparatus
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Outdoor Property