Fires on the Colville

Evacuees returned to their homes in the wee hours of Thursday after firefighters contained a fire on the Colville Indian Reservation in northeastern Washington. The fire is one of six reported by tribal officials; all the fires started Wednesday afternoon. According to the Omak Chronicle, the largest fire burned alongside state Highway 155 from the Rebecca Lake Road turnoff to Nespelem.

When the fire threatened the Colville Tribal Convalescent Center, tribal police evacuated nearby residents while medical personnel evacuated more than 50 residents and staff from the convalescent center. The American Red Cross opened shelters at the community center and a local church.

The Wenatchee World reported that a statewide interagency team had assumed management of the fires. David Nee, assistant fire management officer for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Nespelem, said more than 100 tribal firefighters and emergency personnel were on the fire, along with helicopters and a SEAT dropping water and retardant. The Tribes’ Mount Tolman Fire Center crews, led by Incident Commander Adam Bearcub, were first to attack the blaze; firefighters and police were dispatched from Grand Coulee, Coulee Dam, and Elmer City. One firefighter was injured in a vehicle crash on state Highway 155, just west of the Haley Creek-area fire. The cause of the fires is under investigation.

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