Three people were killed in a vehicle collision involving a firetruck and a passenger car on U.S. Highway 395 near Loon Lake, according to the Washington State Patrol.
The crash was reported at 4:28 p.m., according to WSP spokesman Jeff Sevigney. All three fatalities were from the passenger car, which collided with the firetruck at the Grote Road intersection.
Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said the crash occurred when the northbound passenger car crossed the center lane and collided head-on with a southbound Stevens County Fire District 1 firetruck. The firetruck, Schaeffer said, was heading to the town of Clayton to respond to a call of someone suffering from shortness of breath. The truck’s lights and sirens were active, he said.
The driver of the firetruck reported the passenger vehicle burst into flames upon impact, and the fire spread up over the cab of the firetruck, Schaeffer said. He said the vehicles came to a rest in a ditch; unable to get out through the front doors, the two firefighters climbed through the back and called for other agencies, including a Life Flight helicopter, to assist before working to suppress the fire and attend to the passengers in the car.
It is unknown at this time what caused the car to cross the center lane. WSP detectives are investigating.
“We are deeply saddened by today’s tragic collision; we are a part of this community, and our hearts are with the families and friends of those who have died,” Stevens County Fire District 1 Chief Mike Bucy said in a statement. “I am thankful for the assistance of the Washington State Patrol, the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office, and the many community partners who have assisted with the response.”
Schaeffer said the firefighters were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. The two were expected to be released Monday night.
Responding agencies included WSP, Stevens County Sheriff’s Office, Stevens County Fire District 1, Spokane County Fire District 4 and the state Department of Transportation.
The highway northbound was closed in that area at 4:30 p.m. The closure was scheduled to continue until approximately 10 p.m.
Traffic was reportedly backed up several miles by around 5:30 p.m. Department of Transportation crews responded to the scene to establish a detour.
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