Wildfires devastate parts of Okanogan, Douglas counties

Fatality suffered, record acres burned

Courtesy Sandra Zamudio Facebook Late Friday night, Sept. 11, a spot fire on Dyer Hill across the river from Brewster blew up and created a renewed hazard for Crane and Crane headquarters and other points west of the fire.

Mike Maltais/QCH Bryson Zahn stands amid the rubble at the family home at 900 Maple Street in Bridgeport after flames from the Pearl Hill fire destroyed the Zahn home along with several others along that portion of State Route 174.

Oregon firefighters from Tom Fery Farms, Inc. gather at the south end of the Bridge Street Bridge in preparation to tackle the fire burning on Dyer Hill.

The angus cows owned by Dale Smith traverse the blackened landscape in search of food and water.Downed utility wires stretched across a section of Road E N.E. southeast of Mansfield where flames damaged or destroyed many power poles.

A Douglas PUD worker mans the auger and hoist as a lineman guides a line into place on a new pole installed along Road B N.E. between Bridgeport and Mansfield.

Flames destroyed much of the property and belongings of Bridgeport mayor Janet Conklin and husband, Ed, but the main house and an outbuilding was spared.

Jerry Day, owner of Jamison Lake Resort, stands outside the restaurant building at the popular fishing site. The fire skirted Day’s complex but destroyed much of Jack’s Resort further down the lake.

Color in the missing pieces…

A basalt address marker along Monse River Road stands as a mute reminder of a home that stood at the site mere hours before.

The Bridgeport High School soccer field served as a base camp for firefighters from around the state and beyond.

As a rule, water towers rarely burn

Southern Baptist Churches of North Central Washington uses Brewster High School as a staging location to provide meal services to fire victims.

Fire vehicles the Mansfield school as a staging site that two days earlier served as the evacuation center for the town’s residents.erry Day, owner of Jamison Lake Resort, stands outside the restaurant building at the popular fishing site. The fire skirted Day’s complex but destroyed much of Jack’s Resort further down the lake.

Downed power lines on Cameron Lake Road are tagged to warn approaching drivers of the danger.

With flames visible on Dyer Hill in the background across the Columbia River, embers near the lower spar of a utility pole glow in the dark and release sparks in gusts of wind on the Colville Reservation.

A utility worker inspects the top section of a power pole that burned along Road B N.E. between Bridgeport and Mansfield.

Downed utility wires stretched across a section of Road E N.E. southeast of Mansfield where flames damaged or destroyed many power poles.
QUAD CITIES – A deadly combination of tinder-dry conditions, low humidity, and 40-mile-per-hour winds provided ideal conditions for a wildfire that started east of Omak to burn more than 300,000 acres in 48 hours over the Labor Day weekend.

The Cold Springs Fire that would later become the Pearl Hill Fire started west of Omak Lake sometime around 9 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 6, and quickly spread south and west jumping the Columbia River near Bridgeport at about 3 a.m. according to a source in the town.

First fire casualty

As the fire aided by a strong south wind raced across the Colville Reservation toward Bridgeport in the Monday morning darkness, a family of three camping at a remote house in Paxton Canyon without power, water, or communications was caught by the fast-moving flames. Despite a valiant attempt to flee the blaze in a pickup, Jacob Hyland, 31, Jamie Hyland, 26, and one-year-old Uriel were overtaken by the flames and suffered third-degree burns while escaping the inferno on foot.

Search teams were dispatched on Tuesday, Sept. 8, to try and locate the missing family who were eventually found Wednesday morning, Sept. 9, along the north bank of the Columbia River by a Colville Tribes Fish and Wildlife boat. The year-old infant had succumbed to his injuries. Both parents were transported to Three Rivers Hospital and then airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where they remain in critical condition at this writing.

A GoFundMe account established for the Hyland’s has grown to more than $225,000 as of this writing.

Brewster High School refuge

The Red Cross set up shop at Brewster High School Tuesday, Sept. 8, to provide refuge for scores of migrant laborers burned out of their housing facilities at Bridgeport. Shelter manager Cheryl Provorst from the Everett Red Cross chapter said about 90 individuals spent the previous Monday night camped on the school soccer field before facilities were made available the following day.

Provorst said the school can accommodate as many as 300 people still, if the need arises.

Southern Baptist Churches of North Central Washington that contracts with the Red Cross to provide cooking and food services for disaster was also on site at Brewster High School.

Bridgeport losses

Bryson Zahn could see the fire approaching the family home at 900 Maple Street from the northeast while he was engaging another front of the fire at the family’s 100-acre apple orchard across the river at Monroe Orchard Road.

I called my father (Bryan Zahn) to warn him about the fire and he asked me to come and help move stuff out of the house,” Zahn said.

By the time Zahn made the drive from the orchard, across the bridge and east to the family home, the residence which the Zahn’s had occupied for more than 50 years, was already fully involved.

I got there in time to see the window blow out,” said Zahn. “I thought my Dad was still in there, but he was across the road (SR 173) in his pickup.”

Zahn said the fire was so intense that it threatened to burn his vehicle parked on the highway bordering the east side of the property.

Bridgeport mayor Janet Conklin said that 16 homes were lost in and around her city. As the Pearl Hill Fire flanked Bridgeport from the northeast and advanced around its southern perimeter it consumed everything in its path including the mayor’s property on the east side of the city limits.

We lost everything but the house,” Conklin said during a Thursday evening phone call.

Conklin said she has been on the phone trying to solicit emergency aid.

We have many Hispanic families who have lost homes,” said Conklin, “and many of those without insurance.”

The mayor is gathering information to relay to the Douglas County Commissioners and is working to get Bridgeport declared an emergency disaster area. Conklin is also asking any citizens who have travel trailers they can donate to house the homeless to contact the city.

Mansfield spared

While Mansfield was spared by flames that burned heavily east of the town, some outlying structures were not as fortunate. At Jamison Lake, eight miles southeast of Mansfield, one resort escaped destruction while another did not.

Jamison Lake Resort near the north end of the fishery sustained a near-miss as flames burned hot and heavy near the buildings and travel trailers along the east shore.

My karma must have really been working,” said Jerry Day who has owned the resort for the past six years.

Day’s good karma did not reach Jack’s Resort farther south along the lake’s east shore. According to its online website www.jacksresortonjamesonlake.com/

Governor visits

Gov. Inslee who dropped in on Brewster Saturday, Sept. 12, has issued a statewide emergency order in response to multiple fires burning across the state.




User menu

NCW Media Newspapers