On November 15 Wildfire Today covered an issue in eastern Washington surrounding the Dry Creek fire, which burned 49,000 acres and the Silver Dollar Restaurant. The fire occurred in an area in which no jurisdiction had fire suppression responsibility. (Map)
A public meeting was held on November 23 at which numerous complaints were hurled at firefighters.
After the meeting, some state lawmakers said they expect to introduce legislation that would allow, or even REQUIRE, firefighters to fight fires wherever they can. Now THAT would be an interesting piece of legislation.
Here is an excerpt from the Yakima-Herald:
SUNNYSIDE — Firefighters told one man with a water tank he couldn’t proceed to his restaurant to protect it from approaching flames. It burned down.
No one stopped a man who drove down a smoke-covered highway, where he ran off the road and died of what was believed to be a heart attack.
Lawmakers heard these stories and others from angry residents complaining about contradictory orders, lack of action and jurisdictional concerns they blame for allowing two Aug. 20 lightning strike fires to grow into the destructive 49,000-acre wildland fire last August.
“If you’re not going to fight (the fire), get the hell out of there and let us,” said Paul Tilley, who lives near the intersections of State Routes 24 and 241, part of an area blackened by the Dry Creek fire complex that burned down the Silver Dollar Café and a state highway bridge.
Residents unloaded on firefighters who they said refused to help build fire lines because they weren’t authorized but then denied people access to do it themselves.
“Hope you got thick skins,” state Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, told the dozen or so uniformed fire officials in the room.
Firefighters did not dispute many of the complaints, but they described a large, rapidly changing range fire complicated by spotty radio communication and jurisdictional problems.
All told, about 100 people attended the meeting at Snipes Mountain Brewery and Restaurant.
Lawmakers wanted to hear about fires in “no man’s land,” areas so remote they’re not part of a tax-supported protection district. Firefighters from neighboring districts often do not respond to these areas for fear of liability .
After the meeting, the lawmakers said they plan to introduce new legislation in 2010 to allow — perhaps even require — equipped firefighters fight fires wherever they can.
State Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, called it a “duty to serve” law.