CNW Fire Dispatch #1 – The view from Omak
Conservation Northwest / Aug 25, 2015 / Wildfire
Editor’s Note: The below is the first in a series of blog updates from our staff who live or work in the north-central Washington communities impacted by this year’s fires. Look for more updates, photos, real-time coverage and perspective in the coming days and weeks.
We also want to express deep gratitude to all the firefighters, first responders, National Guard, U.S. Army servicemen and women, and all the other heroes working to keep our communities safe during this demanding fire season. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted, especially the families of the firefighters killed last week near Twisp and others who have lost loved ones, homes or businesses to the fires.
By Jay Kehne, Conservation Associate
Living on a hill near the Okanogan River south of Omak, my family and I are fortunate to be in a position to watch and keep track of the fires but so far have not been evacuated. The feeling is that everything around us is burning, and it’s hard to relax or do anything but pay attention to radio, Facebook and email reports.
We’ve had friends, family and colleagues stay with us over the past week after they evacuated ahead of the advancing Twisp and North Star fires. And we’ve also been boarding goats, sheep, horses and rabbits from friends who were evacuated, which is adding to the commotion around our place!
My wife’s parents have been evacuated, and a hot spot shows up on the map a quarter mile from their house. It went from red to yellow on Monday, which is a good sign. But we’re still not certain what the status of their place is.
Views from Omak over the last few days:
Photos by Jay Kehne, Conservation Northwest
The worst day was Friday around 9:00 a.m. when the 50 mph winds picked up and it looked like a zombie movie scene. Ash and cinders blowing by, smoke so thick you couldn’t see across the street, and no good knowledge of whether you should stay or go other than radio updates every 15 minutes. Thanks to Becki and John Andrist for keeping it real on the radio and providing accurate and factual information!
We had a brief respite from high winds and fire growth yesterday (Monday). But with a new weather system forecasted to come through the region late on Wednesday and several fires continuing to spread in the meantime, our Okanogan community is far from “out of the woods” yet. We’ll keep you posted.
For the latest official fire updates, we recommend Inciweb, this GIS map, and the Okanogan County Emergency Management, Chelan County Emergency Management, Colville Tribes Emergency Services, Stevens County Fire District #1 and Ferry County Sheriff’s Office / 911 Facebook pages.