Excitement is heating up at San Juan Island Fire and Rescue in the wake of selecting a new fire chief.
The board unanimously agreed to offer the job to Norvin Collins at a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 18.
After over 35 years with the department, San Juan Island Fire Chief Brad Creesy will retire at the end of October. Collins was not present at the meeting and the exact date he will start has not been determined.
“I think Novin is the best applicant we could possibly find,” said San Juan Island Fire and Rescue Commissioner Bob Jarman. “I believe he’ll make a good fit for this community and as well as this department.”
Commissioners will mail Collins a letter, offering the job on the condition that he passes a physical and signs a contract with the district.
Collins is the current fire chief for the Sauvie Island Fire District in Portland.
Journal of the San Juans
A house fire on Old Highland Orchard Road east of Bridgeport destroyed a structure Sunday night, and two people thought to have been in the home were unaccounted for Monday morning.
Douglas County Sheriff Kevin Morris said in a press release that two people were able to escape but the status of the two other people remained unknown. The fire was reported at 9:51 p.m. Sunday in the 700 block of Old Highland Orchard Road, about three miles east of Bridgeport. The structure was a total loss, Morris said, and the cause and circumstances was not known.
Firefighters and investigators were still on the scene Monday morning. Bridgeport and Douglas County Fire District 3 officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
A small child was injured in a house fire Tuesday night at a home in the 200 block of South 60th Avenue. Yakima Fire Department Capt. Jeff Pfaff says firefighters responded to the kitchen fire at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and when they arrived they found a 3-year-old boy who was suffering from burns to his lower body. The boy's grandmother was also taken to the hospital with chest pains and breathing problems. No other injuries were reported. The fire was caused by the stove top in the kitchen. The homeowners appeared to have been cooking earlier in the day and a burner was potentially left on for an extended period of time. Damage is estimated at $40,000.
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It had the appearance of a typical wildfire.
Firefighters in yellow-and-green protective gear worked to contain flames as they burned through brush and trees. They’d back off as dead trees started burning from the inside and began dropping limbs and parts of their trunks to the ground, raising clouds of ash and igniting fresh fires.
But this scene Sept. 6 wasn’t in a remote forest. It was less than 2 miles from the heart of downtown Yakima, along the Yakima Greenway near the banks of the Naches River. The fire near Gordon Road was one of at least six suspicious fires along the pathway that Yakima firefighters have dealt with this year.
“It’s a very dangerous area to be using fire at all,” said Yakima Fire Capt. Jeff Pfaff, adding that fire crews have responded to more than the usual number of fires along the path.
A fire consumed an estimated 50 golf carts and other course equipment early Sunday morning at The Cedars at Dungeness golf course, 1965 Woodcock Road.
Eric Quitslund, an assistant chief with Clallam County Fire District 3, said district personnel responded to the golf course with two fire engines and three water tenders at 6:38 a.m. Sept. 16, where they found an approximate 24-foot-by-100-foot structure fully involved in flames.
“We don’t know the cause yet, but I suspect it was a similar situation to the previous fire,” he said.
Fire crews, including Quitslund, responded to an electrical fire on Feb. 7 at the course that destroyed and/or damaged three carts in a different shed.
Bill Shea, Director of Golf/General Manager at The Cedars, said on Monday no one has been able to get inside it to assess the damage.
For the Methow Valley, wildfire is a way of life. Over the years, rural communities here in North Central Washington have learned to live with the threat, tragedy and benefits of fire on the land.
Coffee shops post the latest fire boundaries and evacuation updates. “Thank you, firefighters” posters hang from store windows. Out-of-state fire rigs park in local motel lots.
“This is a huge fire area, like the whole state. I don’t know anybody that’s not impacted by it — whether it’s because they’re choked out from the smoke coming down the valley or whether (fire) got close to their house or whether their family members are firefighters,” said Judy Hoffman, an engine boss for Methow River Wildfire.
Hoffman is among a growing number of people who count on wildfires to make at least a portion of their income.