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Posted on Aug 5, 2019

Local firefighters helping across state

In the summer of 2018, the Post-Register reported on five wildfires around or near Quincy. This summer, there have been no major wildfires in the immediate area, according to Grant County Fire District 3.
Currently, there are six wildfires burning in the state, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center: Kusshi Creek, about 40 miles south of Yakima; Saddle Mountain, 3 miles north of Mattawa; Pipeline, 7 miles south of Selah; Left Hand, 17 miles northwest of Naches; Desert Canyon, 8 miles northwest of Orondo; and Graham, 8 miles southwest of Cheney.
With no major wildfires to fight nearby, some local firefighters have responded to help calls and joint efforts in other cities and counties, said GCFD3 Deputy Chief of Operations Tony Leibelt.
Two firefighters recently returned early last week from helping another district with a fire near Goldendale, Washington, said Leibelt. He also added that almost weekly the district is sending out help to other areas of the state.
Local firefighters have also been called to help neighbors to the south in Beverly. In early June, the district responded to a call near State Route 243 and the Wanapum Dam. According to Leibelt, the wildfire burned about 12 miles (in distance) and threatened some structures before being contained. The fire was 85 percent contained as of July 2, according to the Southeast Region Department of Natural Resources’ incident information system.
Firefighters sent out on joint efforts usually aren’t gone long. The two who recently returned from Goldendale were there for only two days, according to Leibelt.
“Typically within a 24-hour period we can gain control,” Leibelt said, depending on equipment, training and the size of the fire.
Leibelt could not pin down why there have not been more wildfires closer to Quincy this year.
“It’s just the luck of the draw I guess,” Leibelt said, adding that burn bans have helped as well.
The GCFD3 crews are always ready and alert to respond to any emergency call, but they take extra precautions when thunderstorms are forecasted by looking at their staff and ensuring they have the manpower they need in an emergency, said Leibelt.
Lightning strikes are just one of many ways a wildfire can start, he said. Others include chains dragging behind trailers on the highway and creating sparks, or mechanical issues with truck axles. However it is started, Leibelt said wildfires started by humans tend to be larger. On the contrary, wildfires caused by lightning strikes typically are smaller, depending on wind conditions.

By Miles King, sports@qvpr.com