28 Nov 2009, 8:36pm
Latest Fire News
by admin

Fighting wildfires-Status quo not acceptable in no man’s land

Editorial, Yakima Herald-Republic Thursday, November 26, 2009 [here]

Anger over the Dry Creek fire still smolders among landowners who tried in vain to fend off two wildland fires that grew to 49,000 acres in late August.

A meeting in Sunnyside earlier this week did little to calm the frayed nerves of those who live in what’s called “no man’s land,” pockets of rural sections in Central Washington that are without fire protection. The Dry Creek fire, caused by lightning strikes starting Aug. 20, burned down a state highway bridge and destroyed the iconic Silver Dollar Cafe at the intersection of state routes 24 and 241 — in the heart of no man’s land.

State lawmakers from Central Washington conducted the meeting in hopes of assessing what went wrong and figure out what could be done in the future to provide better protection for residents living outside established fire districts.

They got an earful, and most of it was highly critical of firefighters.

The Silver Dollar Cafe owner said fire officials didn’t allow him to bring a water tank to fight the blaze that eventually destroyed his restaurant. Another described a tragic scene involving a long-time family friend who was allowed to drive down a smoke-filled highway — State Route 24. He was found dead later in the evening with his fifth-wheel rig stuck alongside the road in a pasture. He apparently died of a heart attack.

Several lawmakers vowed after the meeting to introduce legislation that would require equipped fire crews to fight fires wherever they can regardless of whether it’s in their district or not. Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, termed it a “duty to serve” law. … [more]



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