NESPELEM, WA—Fire claimed the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation’s Headquarters located at the Colville Indian Agency early Monday morning, Colville Tribal Chairman Michael O. Finley said this morning.
“For the first time in our government’s recent history, our legislative body and Administration is without a Headquarters. We are shocked and saddened at this development. Many irreplaceable Tribal and personal items were lost today. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The Tribal Governmental community, and the community at large, is pulling together beautifully around this event so that the Tribes can continue to operate in as seamless a manner as possible,” said Finley.
The fire was reported at about 1:15 a.m. Officers arrived on the scene at approximately 1:20 a.m., and reported that the building was fully engulfed about five minutes later. Crews from the Bureau of Reclamation, Grand Coulee, and Coulee Dam all assisted the Colville Tribal Emergency Services fire crews. “We are very thankful for the assistance we received in fighting this fire,” added Finley.
The Tribal Headquarters, built in 1975, housed the Colville Business Council, and was the site of Colville Business Council meetings. The Tribes’ Executive Director, Land and Property manager, Information Technology, and Elections offices were also located in the building. Approximately forty Tribal employees were displaced because of the fire.
“Our priority is always to provide governmental services to the Tribal membership. We are working to establish temporary office space and supplies and will continue operations with minimal disruption. The new Tribal Government Center, which has been a priority for quite some time now, will be fast-tracked in order to meet the needs of the Tribal membership and government as quickly as possible,” Francis Somday, Executive Director of the Tribes said this morning. “Due to the age and construction materials of the building we lost, we were already concerned about the building and have been planning for new construction. This tragedy highlights the basis for our concerns and our need for a new center,” added Somday.
Michael O. Finley added, “We are very thankful that the building was not occupied, and that nobody was hurt.”
The cause of the fire is being investigated, and work is being done to restore phone and email service to the Tribes.