MONROE — Fire chief Steve Kunkle is leaving at the end of March to take care of his ailing mother.
Kunkle, who’s led Snohomish County Fire District 3 in Monroe for six years, will move to San Jacinto, Calif.
"This has been a very difficult time," said Kunkle, adding that his mother, 73, suffers from multiple medical problems. "I need to be there."
Kunkle said his wife plans to stay at their Monroe home, but he doesn’t know how long he’ll be gone. Kunkle, a 30-year veteran firefighter, said he hopes to return to his job.
"It’s been a great department," he said. "I think we’ve got a very highly trained and professional group of people. And the board has just been great."
Kunkle said the fire district board may grant him a leave of absence.
The board has not announced yet who will run the department, but Kunkle said it will likely be assistant fire chief Jamie Silva.
Fire District 3 serves about 25,000 residents in the district and in Monroe. The district has 30 full-time and 40 volunteer firefighters.