Northwest NEWS

August 27, 2001

Features

Local efforts contribute to wildfire battle

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff writer
   One engine and four Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District (WFLSD) firefighters sent to wildfires in Eastern Washington headed home last Thursday.
   The firefighters were dispatched Aug. 17 to the Mount Leona complex in Republic, Wash., located in the northeast corner of the state, 15 miles south of the Canadian border and about 100 miles west of Idaho. (The term "complex" in a fire name means that there is more than one fire at that location; for example, the Icicle Creek complex contained 20 fires.)
   Woodinville firefighters did not do front line duty, digging lines in the dirt to stop the fires.
   Since they are trained in structural protection, they were staged in the Republic area to protect homes and to patrol in case fire spread to homes, said WFLSD Chief Steve Smith.
   They also provided Emergency Medical Services for the town of Curlew, whose EMS personnel were occupied serving the wild-land firefighters.
   According to WFLSD Deputy Chief Bud Backer, coordinator of county resources being sent across state, King County sent 20 engines and 72 firefighters to the nine wildfires in Okanogan, Yakima, Chelan, Ferry and Klickitat counties.
   Taking into consideration King, Kitsap, Mason and Pierce counties, 65 vehicles and 152 personnel were sent since the earliest fire had received authorization for state fire mobilization on Aug. 14, he said.
   The fires in the Mount Leona complex, where Woodinville firefighters served, seem to be heading toward the U.S. Forest Service area where there are no homes, said Backer.
   Peter Davis, spokesman for the Mount Leona fires, said "The evacuation order was lifted [last] Wednesday at 6 p.m.," meaning homes are no longer threatened and homeowners can return to them.
   "Feedback from the public has been positive," said Davis. "People are pleased, happy and grateful to the firefighters."
   Though rain has been minimal, increased humidity has reduced fire activity.
   Said Davis of the Mount Leona fires, "we have two sides with good control lines; the other two sides are more problematic. We're hoping we can take advantage of the mild weather."
   If it doesn't get dry and windy, there is a possibility they could keep the fires from significantly spreading to the east and north, he said.
   Since Aug. 14, wildfires have burned 158,749 acres in the state.
   Firefighting personnel assigned to these fires totalled 6,091 as of last week.