As June got off to a cooler even more damp start, we encountered a potentially devastating wildfire early in the season. What began as a report of a brush fire on the Chumstick Highway quickly became an all hands on deck urban interface fire. The fire began in the area surrounding the “log deck” at the entrance of Spromberg Canyon and with flames fanned by fast moving winds, heavy fuel loading and the warmest day of the year firefighters had a battle on their hands. As your district, we were part of the initial attack along with Chelan County Fire District 3. Given the magnitude of the fire, the fuels and the corresponding risks a second and third alarm was struck. This brought firefighters from throughout Central Washington to assist in containing the fire. As winds picked up the fire began spotting across the Chumstick Highway in multiple locations requiring the highest level of evacuations in close proximity to the fire. Canadian Air Tankers were called in to drop retardant, helicopters were active in making bucket drops and the USFS and DNR teams began aggressively building line to prevent further spread. Your district provided assistance for the next several days till the situation was deemed resolved. Needless to say that if this fire had occurred in July or August the results would have been much worse. The moral to this story is one we have often heard..be prepared! We live in a fire prone area and there are multiple ways in which a catastrophic fire can get started. Local citizens have been actively working under the guise of Firewise to assist and educate home and property owners about “self-defense” activities that they can take in and around their property. We as a District have been collaborating with this group and other State and Federal agencies to become a Fire Adaptive Community. The harsh reality is that our energy must be focused on the before, during and after a fire event. History has shown us that if you wait to become engaged when fire is breathing down our backs we will lose! Ignoring the inevitable will only lead to more tragic circumstances and loses. The large fires of 2014 and 2015 have been wake up calls. If Wenatchee and Chelan can be overrun by fire just imagine what could happen here. It is easy to say be part of the solution and not part of the problem but a call to action is needed immediately. We are very rural! Help will be several minutes, if not hours away. Your local responders will be engaged in firefighting activities or rapid evacuations. Prepping your property cannot begin when the evacuations are in place. Deciding what to take and what to leave behind, where are my meds, who has the dog, how do I shut off the utilities and where do I go? Our Plain FAC team can help with some of these items and give advice on others. Take a minute (ok it will take longer than a minute) to meet with them and seek answers to your questions and concerns. This is truly serious business! To reach the Plain FAC teams call our Fire District at 509.763.3034 and we will put you in touch with the right person who can provide assessments, plans, and ideas. Please stay safe, abide by all burning restrictions, wear floatation devices, post your address and check your smoke detectors. We care about our neighbors and want to assist in making this a safer place to live and play.
Stay Safe, Chief Mick By Mick Lamar
As I write this article, we find ourselves digging out from another round of snow. We have had the most snow that I can recall for the past ten years. This should help our snow pack and keep the moisture levels up in the forests. Some have added that because of the extreme cold we had earlier we may experience a “beetle kill event” which would improve the health of our forest. Last week Mountain Springs Lodge hosted a dinner to thank our “champions” who initiated a very successful campaign to motivate local homeowners to prepare their property in the event a wildfire sweeps our valley. Washington State led the nation in new Firewise Communities and the Plain/ Lake Wenatchee neighbors were the change makers. Good on you all! While we wish that fire would not ever impact our community, as it has other Central Washington communities, the best we can do is attempt to lessen the impact when it does come. The additional benefits from this outreach, is to prepare homeowners on what to do, what to take, when to go, and how to keep them informed on current fire conditions. This local grassroots effort will evolve even further this year as the group formalizes itself into NEWS FROM THE FIRE CHIEF a coalition attempting to garner support for their efforts at the national and state level. Earlier in January we held our annual recognition dinner. Pine River Ranch was the host for our 145 attendees. We held a swearing in ceremony for our 8 recruits who just completed their initial training requirements! This training was completed in a 3 month period of time and required many additional hours of skills training. Congratulations to our new members! A special thanks to Lt. Mike Stanford who personally mentored these young firefighters. In addition, we recognized Battalion Chief Kelly McDaniels as our “Top Responder”. Kelly made more calls than any other member and we appreciate his commitment to our community. The highlight of the evening was the Auxiliary’s presentation to the Firefighter’s Association of a check to support their volunteer efforts. Through a variety of fundraising efforts a check for $50,000.00 was presented to President Bill Moffat from President Dennis Broughton! Thank you to ALL of you who support our efforts to provide emergency services. You are the reason we keep on serving. Lastly, we have formalized an agreement with Cascade Medical regarding initial BLS Ambulance response here in the Upper Valley. Your volunteers will staff the initial response unit provided by Cascade Medical. Cascade Medical will compensate the Fire District with funds they collect through the current EMS levy. This agreement will enhance a long standing desire to put skilled providers at a patient’s side as quickly and efficiently as possible. We currently have 8 members attending a local EMT class and look forward to having them increase our response capabilities. The stark realities of most communities including ours, is that medical/rescue calls account for a majority of our responses. So having trained personnel who can provide skilled care and partnering with our local hospital makes for good patient care and improving the potential outcome.
Stay Safe, Chief Mick