Local firefighters battle Eastern Washington blazes
September 20, 2012 · Updated 2:09 PM
WENATCHEE — Several wildfires continue to rage in Eastern Washington, and local firefighters are there helping to contain the fires.
Poulsbo Fire Department spokeswoman Jody Matson said two of her department’s volunteer firefighters, Joel Brose and Edward Wright, headed east as private contractors to help battle the Grand Coulee fires last week.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue sent a brush truck, staffed by three firefighters, to the Wenatchee Complex, according to spokeswoman Michele Laboda. Currently, they’re in staging and awaiting assignment to one of the new fires that have broken out this week. Laboda said they also may get pulled into the Table Mountain Complex, which has become a much more serious incident.
A NKF&R water tender is also still there as part of a South Puget Sound Region team that includes five engines from King County, two engines from Clallam County, one engine from Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue and NKF&R Tender 84.
“They are in the trenches at the Table Mountain Complex, fighting to protect houses that are threatened by the rapidly-advancing wildfire,” Laboda said.
The National Weather Service has issued a "red flag warning" for the Puget Sound basin. Red flag warnings are posted when conditions are ripe for wildland fire ignition and spread. A burn ban remains in effect until significant and sustained precipitation decreases the level of fire danger in the area. The Kitsap County Fire Marshal also announced Friday elevating the local burn ban to Phase II, prohibiting all outdoor burning, including recreational and campfires.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, as of Thursday, more than 214,000 acres are burning: 39,300 acres burning in the Wenatchee Complex, 6,740 acres in the Okanogan Complex, 9,300 acres in Cascade Creek, 3,000 acres in Yakima Complex, 23,202 acres in Apache Pass Complex, 81,155 acres in Barker Canyon Complex, 285 acres in Diamond Butte complex, 23,500 acres in Taylor Bridge, 9,500 acres in Table Mountain and 11,299 acres in Buffalo Lake Road.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Poison Fire and the Peavine Fire burning in Chelan County.
In response to the state's request for a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant, FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Sharon Loper approved the request for the Poison Fire on Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. At the time of the request, the fire was threatening 197 primary residences. Loper approved the request for the Peavine Fire on Sept. 13 at 12:15 a.m., as the fire threatened 120 residences southeast of Wenatchee. Approximately 360 people had evacuated the area; shelters have been set up in Chelan and Wenatchee. The Leahy fire has burned 78,000 acres and has merged with the Barker Canyon Fire of over 96,000 acres. Critical power generation facilities are also threatened. Approximately 90 percent of the power in the Pacific Northwest is distributed through this system.
The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of Washington eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires. These grants provide reimbursement for firefighting and life-saving efforts. They do not provide assistance to individuals, homeowners or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.
Fire Management Assistance Grants were also provided for the Highway 141 Fire, the 1st Canyons Fire, the Barker Canyon Fire and the Byrd Canyon Fire.
More information: www.dnr.wa.gov/Publications/rp_fire_currentfireinfodailyupdates.pdf.