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Flags lowered across Washington in honor of longtime Colfax Fire Chief

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward orders flags in lowered to half staff to honor James Earl Krouse, who passed away while responding to his fourth call of the day.

COLFAX, Wash. — A memorial service for James Earl Krouse, 76, the longtime Colfax Fire Chief who died from an apparent heart attack while responding to a wildfire will be held on Friday, Sept. 10. 

The funeral service honoring Krouse will be held at 1:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Colfax with burial following at the Colfax Cemetery.

On the day of his memorial service Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward ordered flags in the city to be lowered to half-staff. This follows Governor Jay Inslee’s directive that state and U.S. flags at all state agency facilities be lowered, Friday, Sept. 10, in remembrance of Former Colfax Fire Chief and Volunteer Firefighter Jim Krouse. 

In August, Colfax Fire Department confirmed that Krouse was responding to his fourth call of the day. He collapsed while helping pull a hose from the truck to work on a brush fire outside of Colfax.

He was rushed to the Whitman Hospital, where he died from an apparent heart attack.  Fire investigators later determined the wildfire he was responding to was caused by a cigarette. Pullman Fire Investigator Tony Nuttman ruled the fire accidental.

The man who caused the fire was arrested and booked into the Whitman County Jail for second-degree criminal trespass.

Friends and family will gather to honor the life and years of service to the Colfax Fire Department. Krouse served as Colfax Chief from 1972 to 2010, following his father Earl, who was the chief prior to him. 

Before the funeral, there will be a procession of approximately 30 police and fire vehicles from around Whitman County and the state. There will several road closures for the procession. 

 Southbound Mill Street will be closed from E. Harrison Ave to Hwy 272/ Spring Canyon Road. Hwy 195 will be closed in both directions from Harris Rd to Hwy 272, starting about 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

In his more than 50 years with the department, those around Krouse never lost that excitement that most cadets have when they begin their careers. Krouse's colleagues said he was willing to do any of the duties required of firefighters, including pulling line, which is what Krouse was doing when he collapsed.