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Quick fire response saves homes


A Bureau of Reclamation fire crew and truck approach the flames of a fire in Delano on USBR land Friday. - Roger S. Lucas photo

A fast-moving fire Friday burned about an acre of brush and grass across the highway from North Dam, but quick action by local firefighters prevented flames from reaching nearby houses.

The fire started about 11:05 a.m. and took less than an hour to get under control, although some firefighters were on the scene for more than four hours.

Firefighters from Electric City, Grand Coulee, and USBR Fire Departments responded.

Grand Coulee Volunteer Fire Chief Rick Paris said the fire started alongside SR-155 and the originating flame was narrowed down to a 10-square-foot area.

Paris said cigarette butts were found in the area and a truck and trailer were stopped in the area just prior to the start, but there was no positive evidence on the cause of the blaze.

The fire burned grass and sagebrush and raced up the rocky slope toward houses up the hill. Firefighters and units were able to get above the fire and prevent it from reaching houses there.

Dale Carriere, of USBR Plant Protection fire department, coordinates the initial attack on the fire Friday on bureau land in Delano. - Roger S. Lucas photo

Paris said the "preliminary declaration" of its cause is that the fire was "human caused, accidental, undetermined." It is still under investigation.

The parcels of land burned are owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Steve Berg, and Jerry and Julanne Birdwell.

One firefighter was stung by a bee, it was reported.

"It is a reminder of how fast fires can take off and become big very fast in our current weather and fuel conditions," Paris said. "Firefighters continue to ask everyone to be careful and follow all burning restrictions."

Assisting firefighters were the Grand Coulee Police Department, USBR maintenance workers, state park employees, and firefighters from Douglas County Fire District 3 and Okanogan Fire District 2, as well as Grant County PUD workers.

In all, 18 firefighters, two EMTs, seven fire engines and two police officers responded.

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