Pateros in Flames

From VisitOkanogan.com

From VisitOkanogan.com

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.

KXLY: Homes, businesses lost in raging Central Washington firestorm

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.

Central WA Fires 7-14 2

Central WA Fires 7-14 1

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.”

Central WA Fires 7-14 3

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.

Central WA Fires 7-14 4

Okanogan County is in a state of emergency. The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle has continuing local coverage and right now is featuring these headlines:

Emergency declared by county commissioners

Wildfire destroys buildings in Pateros

Roads closed, structures destroyed in Methow wildfires

Methow Valley shelter moves from Twisp to Winthrop

Tribe mops up five fires at Owhi Lake

Malott area evacuation ordered; 100 or more homes lost county-wide

Utility declares emergency; repairs could take weeks

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.

From the Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

From the Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

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.

Update 7/23/14: A coworker whose hometown is Pateros says donations can also be made at the Give Naked site.

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


©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.


Special Operations


You had me at illuminated manuscripts.

Recently I had the pleasure of talking with author Tom Lukas about his first book in a developing series, Special Operations. Standing by his ultra-hip 1972 Volvo p1800e coupe dubbed Spycar, which he’s touring  the country in to promote his series, he offered inside access to a mind always wired for writing, but that didn’t take the plunge until his 30s. At that point he exited a carpentry career to earn a degree in English literature. Readers will be glad he did.

Having recently read Special Operations, I can see how Lukas’ rich and varied life experiences, tinted by both triumph and tragedy, developed into a thriller that showcases the best and worst traits of the human soul. Knowing my interests in forensic psychology, he’d mentioned the complexity of the villain’s character. As you delve into the book you find that some bystanders begin to laud the antagonist’s missions and find yourself wondering how far you would go to protect innocents.

But is it protection, revenge, the indulging of a grossly overinflated, demonic god complex in a garish, theatrical bonfire of narcissism, or all of the above? Or more? What the Illuminator, the shadowy figure who captures key community figures, does is unquestionably over the top and excessive. But in bringing such a character to life, Lukas takes the revenge fantasies that victims of certain horrors might well have indulged and injects them with expired steroids. Some of these stygian twists and turns are so gut-wrenching they’re difficult to read, but they are not beyond the realm of possibility. That’s what makes them so terrifying.

How the Illuminator got from point A to point Z on the sadism spectrum really made me stop and think. I had to build a mental timeline to zero in on how an arguable hero became a butcher who seems like the next incarnation of Josef Mengele. This was especially intriguing because on the very first page, we learn that the Illuminator might be a woman. The MO and signature are not typical of a woman.

Spycar 3


Without giving away key plot points, I could see how certain events contributed to this, although how we respond to such events is often a matter of choice. But there was some other factor at play, something whispering behind the curtain that I couldn’t put my finger on until later in the book. This missing puzzle piece nearly floated to the surface by the final pages, shocking in its stark reality, and causing readers to question how often such things happen in the real world.

Also of particular interest to me were the law enforcement characters. I’ve known a lot of cops in various contexts– as a friend, as a spouse, as a coworker, as a student, as a survivor, and so on. Detective Nick Giaccone resembles some of the veterans I know, guys who now do consulting or side work as they age out of the ranks. Those are also some of the best investigators I know.

Giaccone is unwittingly drawn into this case just as he’s about to retire and is pulled deeper and deeper into a tragedy involving a rookie officer. In his investigation he realizes that he should have been paying more attention to his spider sense all along– and this despite his seasoned instincts. As he replays conversations and dredges up old memories, he is able to piece together the bigger picture, leading him to an epic showdown with a surprisingly formidable enemy.

In my writings on sociopaths and domestic violence, I like to remind people of what Gavin de Becker said in his bestseller The Gift of Fear, a book a trusted cop coworker introduced me to over a decade ago. Trust that uneasy feeling you get even if it doesn’t make sense– don’t dismiss it. If someone says or does something that makes you feel uncomfortable, pay attention.

In The Gift of Fear, de Becker tells us of a man who walked into a convenience store, but had an odd feeling and wound up leaving without buying anything. Shooting erupted soon after. Similarly, domestic violence victims often say that they sensed something was off when they met their abuser, but were charmed by their words anyway. That gut feeling isn’t prone to inaccuracies.

This is the voice that rises in Detective Giaccone as he teams up with a noted professor to interpret clues, particularly bits of illuminated manuscripts positioned at crime scenes. As Professor Canon Nailor and Giaccone connect over their shared second language and common cause, they become the odd couple of policing, at least for a time. We realize there could be more to Professor Nailor when the “dragon” enters, his vehicle of choice. But is there? And why would there be?

Ultimately this book reminded me of what a Holocaust survivor said about Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann– that Eichmann lives in all of us. Human passions and desires, unchecked, can lead straight to hell. There is a point at which the desire for justice  or revenge can cross over into the very territory that the justice seeker wishes to conquer. The abused can become the abuser; the advocate can become the vigilante. In our quest to set the world right we can become something even worse than the monster that violated us or those we love.

Special Operations starts like a roller coaster ride through a haunted house– if you remember the old Flight to Mars ride at the Seattle Center you’ll think you’re inside of that. Safely inside the standard formulaic crime novel, you buckle up and prepare to meet the usual cast of characters. Standard and usual, however, do not apply here. By the end of the book you’re out in the open, ten stories above the city at the top of the tracks not knowing when or how you’ll plummet down in book two.

Spycar 2


Lukas knows evil, and as a Christian who studies the dark souls among us, I am reminded of just how dark the night is inside a soul surrendered to forces that strengthen unholy desires. I am also moved to acknowledge how powerful love, devotion, and loyalty are, especially when there is justice to be sought.

In conclusion, Lukas has a gift for descriptive prose and a deep empathy and compassion for victims of sex crimes. For a guy who’s never worked in law enforcement, I appreciate how tuned in he is to the nuances of cops and the frustrations of some of the more seasoned investigators. My only major criticism, other than a smattering of choppy sentences that I tend to write with as well, is that at times I had trouble understanding how many years had passed between a key character’s death and this storyline. At times it seemed like a decade or more; other times much shorter. When I read it again sometime I’ll pay more attention to that. But first I plan to get my hands on a review copy of book two when it’s available. Lukas is actively conducting research to make the next installation at least as realistic and jarring.

Special Operations is published by Spycar Books and Yancastel Inc. in Seattle, Washington. Visit Tom Lukas’ website, Spycar Books, to learn more about this series, the car, and the man who had the courage to switch careers to start chasing his dreams.


Are there, infinitely varying with each individual, inbred forces of Good and Evil in all of us, deep down below the reach of mortal encouragement and mortal repression — hidden Good and hidden Evil, both alike at the mercy of the liberating opportunity and the sufficient temptation? –Wilkie Collins


©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.




So what are you doing next month in mid-August? How about a little Gemau Byd Arallddweisol in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales?

For years I’ve wanted to host an absolutely ridiculous annual event compromised of guests in random costumes competing in contests of our own creation. Fastest Slip N’Slider covered in Crisco, perhaps, or blindfolded adult tricycle racing. The possibilities are endless and the best part is knowing wild and crazy people who’d have no problem abandoning themselves to such a day of glee.

It turns out that some of my intrepid Welsh brethren have beat me to the punch and created the World Alternative Games, held every August in a small town near the Irfon Forest called Llanwrtyd Wells. The idea for the Games was sparked after learning the Olympics would be held in London in 2012; WAG held its first official games that same year. The WAG website says: Continue Reading »

The Eight-Cow Wife

Today a coworker and I were discussing terms that relate to the value of something. The term that popped into my head was “ten-cow wife.” That’s a phrase I picked up from a short movie I’d watched in seventh grade. It was about a Polynesian trader who seemed to pay too many cows for his bride. Continue Reading »

Restoration Church

On Saturday, March 22nd, a catastrophic mudslide destroyed a community most of the world had never heard of in the foothills of the Pacific Northwest. Over the next week, millions of people had not only heard about Oso, Washington, but about the relief work being done there by the mighty 80-member Oso Chapel. They have raised about $300,000 for Oso slide relief since the slide (!).

Teresa of Avila said that Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. The Oso Chapel, an evangelical Baptist-affiliated church located just several miles west of the slide, did not jump into the fray to help their neighbors when the slide happened. They were already hard at work before that, as evidenced by this mission statement and video posted on YouTube on February 21st of this year, a month before the tragic event that killed 42 of their neighbors. Continue Reading »

Star Spangled Banner

This Saturday, June 14th, 2014, is Flag Day. This is the day we Americans celebrate the adoption of our national flag on June 14th, 1777. Until the latter part of the 19th century, we didn’t have a separate day celebrating our beloved banner. As a matter a fact, it wasn’t until the summer of 1949 that President Truman signed an act making June 14th National Flag Day. You can read more about our flag’s history here.

This year, the 200th anniversary of our national anthem the Star-Spangled Banner, the Smithsonian Institution is hosting a major celebration. Here are details: Continue Reading »


June 1st through 7th is National CPR and AED Awareness Week. You can visit the Red Cross website to find out how to become CPR certified.

Having just renewed my certification, I was reminded of this classic scene from Dumb and Dumber when Harry and Lloyd attempt CPR on the hitman who’s been tracking them. Continue Reading »


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