The City of Pateros, Washington is burning. This picturesque town of about 650 people in north central Washington where the Methow and Columbia Rivers meet is beloved by many. We go there to relax, to enjoy the outdoors, and to enjoy the scenery. An out of control wildfire, one of scores burning in the state right now, has consumed 100 homes in the county at last report. I just received word that a friend’s home– astonishingly– is still standing. That does not mean it is unscathed.
Chaos and devastation cover Washington’s Methow Valley, as a wildfire jumped a ridge and flames burned into the town of Pateros. Homes and businesses are burning to the ground in the firestorm that is burning into the town of Brewster as well.
The fire, stemming from the Carlton Canyon fire, has been burning for several days. Around 6 p.m. Thursday night wind fanned the flames down a hillside and the flames came racing towards Pateros.
At 8 p.m. Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers ordered the evacuation of Pateros. As they left town, witnesses reported seeing businesses and homes on fire. The hospital in Brewster was evacuated as was the evacuation center set up by the Red Cross.
I’ve been receiving email reports about this for a few days and am compelled to share some of that information about the fire as an appeal for help. First, a fire close to Wenatchee. I don’t know who to give credit to; their name is not on the OneDrive page I retrieved these from. This looks like hell. Or a furious volcano.
Here is one account from Thursday, July 17th:
…the last I heard the fire was headed to the shed in the back of our house in Pateros. The neighbor’s house across the street is now gone. When she called me the fire was in the brush in the back, green lawns and sprinklers didn’t seem to matter, in minutes it was gone. Fire was headed to the church also near our house. I have no idea what is burning and what will be left. I talked to the Red Cross in Chelan, they said it was very bad. I tried to get my renters back on the phone, no answer. (Renter) was sitting in her car watching the house and crying. I told her kids to tell her to leave, never mind the house. Safety and their lives is what matters. They were all crying, scared and shocked, after all it is their home and their belongings. It was pitch black at 4:30, power lines went out, so much confusion. Cattlemen trying to save their herds. My daughter’s grandmother in a nursing home has to be moved, the hospital in Brewster is moving patients to Omak. The whole hillside above the town was on fire when I was first called. The water tower’s just above the school. It’s not just one town, it is Twisp, Carlton, Brewster, I heard another on near Leavenworth and around Lake Wenatchee. So many fires, so dry, like matches and gasoline, then the wind does its thing. One fire jumped the Columbia River, that is a big jump, they got that one under control…
This is a photo of Pateros burning. It was sent with the caveat, “This picture was not taken at night, that’s how dark it was getting… I hope people here will step up like they did at Oso.”
One local said:
I received a call from (family member), who actually saw the fire jump onto the hill in back of Pateros and he said within minutes it had spread horizontally, taking everything in its path. He said it was so painful, watching Pateros burn. He had been at Ft. Okanogan earlier in the day and was returning home to Wenatchee. This Carlton Complex Wildfire is a monster and all the surrounding counties are in flames.
I am sick at heart for all of you. I am praying very hard and asking others to do so, too.
Tanya Wards Jones took this picture of vehicles leaving town. This looks like a scene out of a zombie apocalypse movie.
Okanogan County is in a state of emergency. The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle has continuing local coverage and right now is featuring these headlines:
Their front page features this dramatic photo, timely as just before I went to their site I was thinking of these timeless lyrics to a favorite hymn. They’re a reminder that there is only one sure thing in this world and it’s Him.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
KOMO is reporting that Malott has been evacuated as well as part of Brewster. Also:
The fire consumed utility poles from two major power lines, knocking out power to Pateros as well as the towns of Winthrop and Twisp to the north.
Gov. Jay Inslee said about 50 fires were burning in Washington, which has been wracked by hot, dry weather, and gusting winds and lightning. Some 2,000 firefighters were working in the eastern part of the state, with about a dozen helicopters from the Department of Natural Resources and the National Guard, along with a Washington State Patrol spotter plane.
Karina Shagren, spokeswoman for the state’s Military Department, said 100 National Guard troops were on standby, and up to 1,000 more in Yakima could receive additional fire training. Active duty military could be called in as well, Inslee said.
“This, unfortunately, is not going to be a one-day or one-week event,” he said.
The Seattle Times has a map of the fire, information on highway closures, and other useful information.
KCPQ has video of the aftermath in Pateros.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources site has great information including a burn risk map, Twitter feed, and links to updates on the fires.
Here’s how to help. Please remember that both people and animals need assistance at times like this.
The Ron & Don show has posted this information:
All of the Les Schwab Tire Centers locations in Western Washington, along with shops in Wenatchee, East Wenatchee and all locations up to Oroville are acting as drop-off points for item donations. All items are welcome. The locations will collect items and then drop them off where they are needed, including Chelan, Pateros and Brewster.
The Wenatchee World has compiled a list of other ways you can help our neighbors in need, some of whom have lost everything:
Chelan PUD offices are now accepting donations of money or gift cards to the Red Cross at their Wenatchee, Leavenworth and Chelan locations. They will also collect donations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at Chelan Riverwalk Park. For more information, call 663-8121 or (888) 663-8121. • Wenatchee: 327 N. Wenatchee Ave., • Chelan: 1034 E. Woodin Ave. • Leavenworth: 222 Chumstick Hwy.
North Cascades Bank has set up a fire relief fund at all of its branches. Anyone can donate. For more information, call your local branch — Wenatchee, 888-6000.
A fire relief fund has been set up by the Community Foundation of NCW. The fund, announced by Beth Stipe this morning, will partner with the Red Cross to provide short- and long-term aid to fire victims. To donate, visit cfncw.org or send checks to 9 S. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee, WA 98801. For more information, call 663-7716.
Dicks Towing in Wenatchee will be accepting donations and delivering them to Chelan. There is no limit to donations. Necessary items include food, clothing, personal hygiene items, toys, giftcards and baby necessities. Dick’s will also be delivering supplies to firefighters, including snacks, water and personal hygiene items. Items should be dropped off at 110 Thurston St. near the Link Transit Station. Drop-off hours are Mon.-Fri., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To drop off at different hours or for more information call 663-1623.
Lakeland Veterinary Clinic in Manson is not accepting animals for boarding, but is taking dog and cat food donations for the Chelan shelter. You can reach them at 687-1021.
Q13 says the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society is also helping the animal survivors. Besides their wonderful website, they also have a Facebook page. They’ve also reported that there is a site dedicated to helping people find pets lost during the fires. It is managed by the National Disaster Animal Response and Recovery Teams.
There are many more ways to help and volunteer at the Wenatchee World’s How to Assist Fire Victims site. Please keep checking their page for updates. And please check before you donate goods– some sites are not collecting them or they might not be needed. Cash donations to the Red Cross are always helpful.
I have feelers out to the faith community in this county to find out how the churches are helping and what they need. Please keep the people and creatures in this area, great and small, in your prayers tonight. Also pray for the safety of those fighting the fires. I’ve heard some eerie terminology describing these infernos like “out of control,” “a funnel of fire,” and “cauldron of hell.” This is a very dangerous situation and once the flames are out there is a long road to recovery ahead.
What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other? -George Eliot
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