Longtime fire chief dies on duty while fighting wildfire

·2-min read
Longtime fire chief Jim Krouse dies on duty while fighting Washington state wildfire (NCWLife)
Longtime fire chief Jim Krouse dies on duty while fighting Washington state wildfire (NCWLife)

A longtime fire chief died on duty as he fought a wildfire in Washington state, his department has confirmed.

Firefighter Jim Krouse, who had been a volunteer on the force in Colfax Washington for 52 years, 40 of them as chief, was responding to the fire when he collapsed pulling out a hose.

The department says that Mr Krouse, 76, was taken by ambulance to Whitman Hospital and Medical Center in Colfax.

Doctors worked on Mr Krouse, who suffered a heart attack, but were unable to save him.

Officials say that he was “like a kid in a candy store” as he responded to his fourth call of the day when he became ill.

When firefighters finished putting out the blaze they assembled at the hospital and led the procession with the ambulance that carried his body , wrapped in an American flag, to a funeral home.

“There was nothing scripted about him, he was there to serve and that was his heart,” Milton Groom, Assistant Chief for Colfax Fire Department, said.

“He had a servant’s heart, to me. He served his family. He was a family man. He served the fire department as family. He served in the community as family.”

Mr Krouse began working for the department in 1969 and served as the fire chief from 1972 to 2010, taking over from his father, Earl, who held the position before him.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation by the fire marshal.

Washington and Oregon had by 15 August seen nearly 1,054,000 acres burned by 77 large wildfires, around 20 times more than in 2020, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

The 2021 fire season began earlier than normal because of the drought that has hit the region, and Governor Jay Inslee declared a wildfire state of emergency in early July.

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