The small town of Three Forks, Mont.—population 1,892—is recovering from shock this weekend as its newly appointed fire chief and five members of a family died when the family's pickup truck crashed into a fire engine, being driven by the chief, on a rural highway, 10 miles southeast of Helena, Mont.
The fire engine was heading east on U.S. Highway 12 when it collided with the westbound pickup, forcing both vehicles into a ditch. The wreckage “was just all melted together” in the blaze, according to law enforcement.
Killed in the pickup were a Helena couple and their three young children,
The Associated Press reports that the chief, 44-year-old Todd Rummel, is remembered as a consummate firefighter, dedicated to a life of service that began when he was 14 and joined a junior fire brigade.
The AP reports that a small flower memorial had appeared at the site of the crash, which had been completely cleared of wreckage except for the skid marks that veered sharply from the highway and led to a ditch blackened by fire.
A memorial service is set for Wednesday, June 25.
The town of Three Forks is located where the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin rivers meet to form the Missouri River, which was a stopping point for the 1806 expedition of Lewis and Clark,.