The Kettle Falls Fire Department (KFFD) responded to an emergency call of a fire near Peach Crest Road last Friday, striking hard and fast to quell the flames that were poised to threaten over half a dozen homes in the area. Fire Districts #3, #8, and #7 were also called to the scene, along with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), who also provided air support. In total, the fire consumed 3.25 acres, said DNR spokesperson Rette Bidstrup.
According to KFFD Chief John Ridlington, a locomotive from nearby train tracks most likely caused the fire, but the official investigation is still underway.
“We hit it hard,” says Ridlington of the fire. “We wanted to stomp on it before it could get any bigger. There was a wind coming off of the Columbia River and it was in a very dry area. It had the potential to grow.”
Two volunteer firefighters had to be transported to Providence Mount Carmel to be treated for heat exhaustion on Friday, but there were no injuries and no structures lost, says Ridlington. Both men were released from the hospital later that day.
“I’m very thankful to the neighboring fire districts and all the agencies that came to our aid, and kept this from being something much worse,” states Ridlington.
Local homeowner Michell Brasfield, who lives off of Old Kettle Road with her husband, was alerted to the fire by a friend who called her. Brasfield went outside and could see smoke on the hill behind her house.
“My husband and I rode the four-wheeler up to see what was going on,” says Brasfield. “We're very thankful for the firefighters who work in such horrific conditions. Our hats are off to them.”
According to Bidstrup, the DNR has responded to 48 fires in Stevens County since March 28, 2013. Seven of them were caused by lightning strikes while the others were human-related (started by fireworks, sparking power lines, discarded cigarette butts, illegal waste burning, etc.). Lightning strike fires since March have consumed a total of .76 acres while human-related fires consumed 47.9 acres.