STEVENS COUNTY, WA – 8/18/2017 With 27 large fires (out of 106) blazing throughout the United States right now, many people don’t realize that 50% of those are raging in the Pacific Northwest. One of them is the Bridge Creek Fire in Ferry County, which has already claimed 1658 acres and is only 24% contained as of 8-18-2017.
Northwest Incident Management Team 6, from Oregon, is running firefighting operations in Keller, with over 450 personnel. Like many fire camps, they’ve turned the small area into their own city. Some services, however, like laundry, are not yet available. This is why one of the most needed items at the fire camp is underwear. “There is a laundromat, but the firefighters don’t come in until late, sometimes 11 pm – and at that point, they’re too tired to do laundry,” Kathy Moses, Public Information Officer for Mt. Tollman assigned to Team 6 explained. New underwear, socks, and tee shirts are commonly requested by firefighters, as are hygiene and first aid items like eye drops, saline nasal spray, lip balm, cough drops, and more. Food items like beef jerky, Slim Jims, and other snacks high in protein are also great for the firefighters. While those are included in their lunches, firefighters burn quite a lot of calories each day, so donations from the community are welcome.
“And now with possible wetting rains forecasted for later next week, donations of ponchos and tarps would be a great help. We’ve got lots of firefighters in tents, and those will help keep them dry,” Ms. Moses said.
The Eastern Washington Firefighter Support Network has begun gathering supplies and is hoping the community will once again rally to support the firefighters. This group, also known as the “Firehouse Hens,” was active during Firestorm 2015 and coordinated donations to multiple fire camps. “We saw a need to help the firefighters who keep us safe, and we went for it. People were incredibly helpful and generous in 2015. In 2017… not so much,” co-founder Kat Brooks told us. “People are concerned about scams and where their donations will end up. Any donations gathered by us go directly into the fire camps and into the hands of firefighters, the way it should be. Today we delivered over 300 fresh-baked cookies, as well as underwear and other items. People want to help. We want to make sure they help in a way that is safe for everyone.”
Ms. Moses elaborated, “If civilians want to help, the best way they can do that is to get our newsletter, and to make donations through one source. We want to limit traffic in this area to the local residents and fire personnel. With all the large equipment and crews working, it poses a safety hazard and we don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”
There is an authorized drop point for donations at North 40 in Colville. Pick-ups for other areas can be arranged by contacting the Support Network through their website or Facebook page at http://tinyurl.com/firehousehens. Subscribing to the Bridge Creek Fire updates is possible by calling 509-634-7332.
Firefighters working the Bridge Creek Fire courtesy K. S. Brooks