Former Tatanka Hotshot killed in Washington wildfire

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Members of the local wildland firefighting community are mourning the loss of a former Tatanka Hotshot who was killed in the line of duty in Washington state.

A U.S. Forest Service official says Richard "Wheels" Wheeler, 31, started with the Tatanka Hotshots in 2008 and served with the crew for a total of five seasons.

Jason Virtue in the Forest Service's Custer office says Wheeler had been working in Washington the past two years.

Virtue says he worked directly with Wheeler on a couple of occasions. He says in the "Hotshot world" there are jobs that aren't very glamorous, like hauling water, but Wheeler would always volunteer to do those jobs.

Virtue also says when the crew got tired, a person could never tell that Wheeler was tired. He remained upbeat and motivated.

Authorities say the three fire fighters were killed after their vehicle crashed on Wednesday and flames rolled over them before they could escape. Four other firefighters nearby were injured, one critically.

There are 820 firefighters fighting the complex of blazes in north-central Washington state, and fire officials say the fires have grown by more than 100 square miles in a day to just over 252 square miles.

Tune in to Black Hills FOX News at 6 and 9 for more on the loss of firefighter Richard "Wheels" Wheeler.