- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan native and fourth-generation firefighter is among three men who died battling a Washington state wildfire.

Richard Wheeler died Wednesday when flames consumed their crashed vehicle outside Twisp, in north-central Washington. The 31-year-old from South Haven was a seasonal worker who hoped to become a permanent U.S. Forest Service wildland firefighter.

This was Wheeler and his wife Celeste’s second year living in the Washington community of Wenatchee. The Rev. Joanne Coleman Campbell, his pastor at Wenatchee First United Methodist Church, says he fought fires to save money for college then realized he could dedicate his life to something meaningful.

His mother, Karen Morey, tells WOOD-TV Wheeler “died a hero.” Relatives say he returned to Michigan in the offseason to pursue a natural resources degree at Grand Valley State University.

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