Identities were released Sunday of the two people who were traveling in a Michigan-based firetruck that crashed Saturday on Interstate 35W in Blaine while on its way to a wildfire assignment in Utah.
The crash on southbound 35W forced the Department of Transportation to close the road in both directions at 95th Avenue for the afternoon, detouring traffic to off-ramps. The southbound lanes reopened late Saturday.
The two who died were identified by the State Patrol as Alan J. Swartz, 25, and James F. Shelifoe, 23, both of Baraga, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
The patrol said in a statement that "the truck was southbound on I-35W near 95th Avenue. The truck left the roadway for an unknown reason, struck the median cable barriers, and rolled. A total of nine people were in the vehicle."
Photos of the scene showed the truck belonged to the Beartown Firefighters, a crew based in Baraga, on the south shores of Lake Superior. The crew specializes in fighting wildfires. It is jointly managed by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The crew was on the way to the Box Canyon wildfire in Utah.
The statement added that some passengers sustained severe injuries but were expected to survive.
"Our hearts are broken and our prayers are with the family members and those injured," the statement said.
Counseling services are being offered Sunday at the Tribal Center and will continue in the coming days, the KBIC announced.
Also, the KBIC is organizing a fundraiser to benefit the families affected by the crash. A spaghetti dinner and raffle fundraiser will be held at a nearby VFW hall on Monday.