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Firefighting efforts claim homeowner’s life

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CARLTON — A retired State Patrol trooper died late Saturday afternoon of an apparent heart attack while trying to save his Carlton-area home from fire.

Robert E. Koczewski, 67, died after working to save his house in rural Carlton, when he suffered what deputies think was a heart attack, said Frank Rogers, Okanogan County sheriff.

He and his wife had been fighting the fire for three days, digging fire lines and hauling water, doing whatever they could to save their home,” Rogers said.

Koczewski “was real close to law enforcement,” Rogers said. “We respected him. He was a great guy. It was a sad day for all of us.”

Rogers said the house was saved.

Reach Dee Riggs at 509-664-7147 or .