County fire agencies respond to trio of SE Washington fires

A fire that began in the Wawawai Canyon and jumped a one-quarter-mile section of the Snake River in the beginning of August. Rural 7 Fire and Rescue, of Goldendale, and Klickitat Fire Districts 3 and 14 sent resources to Pomeroy, as part of a State Mobilization, to assist with the 11,000-acre Snake River Fire, the Fletcher Fire, and the Palouse Falls Fire.

The effort to contain three fires in southeastern Washington farm country last month included fire crews from Klickitat County.

Rural 7 Fire and Rescue, of Goldendale, and Klickitat Fire Districts 3 and 14 sent resources to Pomeroy, as part of a State Mobilization, to assist with the 11,000-acre Snake River Fire, the Fletcher Fire, and the Palouse Falls Fire. Fire District 3 Chief Wes Long served as a Strike Team Leader, while Rural 7 and Fire District 14, of High Prairie, sent Type 6 engines and a Type 2 water tender.

“Attending these events are critically important because we can be a strong part of our statewide response system,” Long said. “Through State Mobilization, we can receive and assist others in times of need.”

Under State Mobilization, the state “rents” fire equipment and pays the labor costs associated with providing and operating the engines and tenders.

“In my case, they are able to not only pay me, but the person who has to fill in while I’m gone,” Long said. “While I have not yet figured out Fire District 3’s income gross and net revenue yet, I roughly figured out that we have realized nearly $3,500 during this last assignment.”

Money from State Mobilization will be deposited into the Fire District’s operating budget “and will dramatically help me with balancing our costs, especially in a budget year that has seen three different pieces of equipment receive investments to them.”

Through State Mobilization, counties are able to help one another out in times of need. Long said this system is an important piece in the state’s ability to respond in force to major fires.

“For example, Garfield, Adams, and other smaller communities simply do not have the tax base or people to fund fire protection that is adequate enough to protect against large fires in their environment,” Long noted. “While the Snake River Fire was human-caused, the other two were a direct result of lightning that rolled through the area. Either way, farmers have huge investments in their crops, so we are happy to be a part of saving those investments along with homes that were affected.”

Klickitat County crews got assigned to area “divisions” to protect wheat fields from igniting and carry out mop-up operations. These crews worked directly with such agencies as the Department of Natural Resources and Strike Teams from Clark, Chelan, and Cowlitz counties.

“It helps to know a lot of people, such as I do,” Long said.

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