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Fire chief, family of five killed in Montana fire engine crash

(Reuters) - A fire chief and a family of five, including three children, were killed in a crash in Montana when the chief's fire engine and the family's pickup truck collided, spun into a roadside ditch and burst into flames, authorities said on Friday.

The cause of the crash on Thursday night on a U.S. highway near the state capital of Helena was under investigation by the Montana Highway Patrol, said Jefferson County Undersheriff Mike Johnson.

The bodies of the fire chief, who had been driving the fire engine, and the five occupants of the Chevrolet pickup – two adults and three children under the age of 18 – were to be examined in autopsies at the state crime lab, Johnson said.

Todd Rummel, 44, the new chief of the volunteer fire department in Three Forks, Montana, was killed in the wreck, said city clerk Darcy Perrenoud. Rummel was driving the fire engine back to Three Forks from Helena, where it had been taken for repairs, she said.

"His death is going to be a big blow for the community," Perrenoud said.

Authorities declined to immediately release the names and ages of others killed in the crash.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Will Dunham)

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