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Man dies in Texas wildfire soon after learning he would become father

The wildfire in Pampa, Texas, March 7. Photo: Hoover Volunteer Fire Department via CNN Wire

The wife of a man killed in a Texas wildfire says the couple had only learned a week earlier that they were expecting their first child.

Sierra Koch says her husband, 25-year-old Cade Koch, was driving home from his job at a hardware store Monday night when he was overcome by smoke from the largest of three wildfires burning in the Texas Panhandle. She described him Wednesday as a hard-working man who “treated everybody with the utmost respect.”

A GoFund Me campaign has nearly reached a goal of raising $20,000 to cover funeral expenses for Koch.

Three other people died in a separate fire to the south while trying to usher cattle away from flames Monday evening.

Three wildfires in the Texas Panhandle have burned nearly 750 square miles of rural land as firefighters continued to make progress in containing the flames fanned by winds and dry conditions.

The fire that claimed Koch is the largest of the three, covering 492 square miles in the northeast Panhandle near the Oklahoma border. It was 60 percent contained by Wednesday morning.

Other wildfires have claimed one life in Kansas and another in Oklahoma.