ANGELA GALLOWAY
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

OLYMPIA -- The 27-year old son of state Rep. Gary Chandler died yesterday afternoon while fighting a brush fire near Moses Lake. The state House, where the 50-year-old Republican has served for 11 years and many members knew his son, adjourned until this morning.

A volunteer firefighter for nearly a decade, Jeremy Chandler was among 11 crew members at the 20-acre blaze when he collapsed at 2:16 p.m., about half an hour after he drove a Grant County tanker to the scene, authorities said. Other firefighters were unable to revive him.

The cause of the fire and of Chandler's death are under investigation. An autopsy is planned.

Rep. Chandler, who was flown to Moses Lake on a State Patrol plane, said he knew of no illnesses suffered by his son, and said an aneurysm is suspected.

The younger Chandler was married just last August and had three stepchildren, a 7-year old girl, a 5-year-old boy and an 18-month-old girl, his father said.

"It was the first time he was able to be a dad, it was the first dad the kids ever had," Chandler said, adding that his son spent his lunch hour with the children yesterday riding a scooter he recently bought for them. "He loves kids. He took up any hobby the kids have."

Chandler said his outgoing son worked at his Postal Service store and enjoyed camping, riding four-wheelers and collecting baseball cards. He inherited his late grandfather's generous sprit, Chandler said, recalling the time he handed a stranger who wandered into the store $20 so he could get to Wenatchee.

"He said, 'He'll be back to pay me,' " Chandler said. "And Jeremy doesn't have a lot of money. He always took on everyone else's burdens.

"He constantly brought animals home. Nothing passed him by."

His parents, a 25-year-old sister and a 5-year-old niece also survive him.

Chandler said his family has been deluged with calls of condolences from fellow lawmakers, as well as friends in town and at their Baptist church.

He was at his desk in the House chamber yesterday when his wife called with the news his son had collapsed. The House is in its second 30-day session extension and is slowly headed toward finally adjourning after agreeing to a budget last weekend.

As the plane left Olympia, he learned that his son had died.

"Everything else is just minor now," Chandler said