Massive Washington wildfire claims its first fatality
Monday, July 21, 2014 - 01:43
A retired state trooper is the the first fatality in the massive wildifre raging in Washington that has destroyed up to 150 homes and forced hundreds to evacuate. Mana Rabiee reports.
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A retired state trooper became the first fatality on Monday in that massive wildifre raging in Washington.
"He was a good friend of mine, and a great man"
Sixty-seven year-old Dave Rodriquez was trying to hose down his home near hot spots when he suffered a fatal heart attack.
Rob Koczewski was one of his best friends.
SOUNDBITE: ROB KOCZEWSKI, VICTIM'S FRIEND, SAYING:
"He spent his life serving the nation, and our community, and it's real sad that this happened to him."
On Sunday, some 1,300 firefighters finally made progress in slowing down the so-called Calrton Complex fire.
It's been raging unchecked for nearly a week -- destroying anywhere from 80 to as many as 150 homes;
charring well over 300 square miles of wilderness east of the Cascade Mountains and forcing hundreds to evacuate.
SOUNDBITE: BRENDA RIGGAN, RESIDENT, SAYING:
"I'm surprised there wasn't more lives lost, it was the worst thing I've ever seen."
NATS ANGRY MEETING
Anger at this community meeting on Sunday, with some residents saying the evacuation response just wasn't good enough.
SOUNDBITE: UNIDENTIFIED ANGRY RESIDENTS SAYING:
"You had no one come through there with a P.A. that says, 'evacuate'"
"Exactly, that's what I'm saying too"
The local sheriff says evacuations aren't ordered by text or phone in this rural area.
It's a door-to-door effort.
SOUNDBITE: UNIDENTIFIED SHERIFF SAYING:
"Honestly, with 4 or 5 guys we're doing what we can."
Cooler weather and slowing winds are helping containment efforts.
Evacuation orders were lifted in some areas and the blaze seems to have stopped growing.
It's just one of 18 fires raging from northern California to Idaho as the Pacific Northwest enters is annual fire season.
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