TV or not TV? As long as the power was on, our smart phones, computers and televisions became indispensable sources of up-to-date, local fire news. I credit the Okanogan County Emergency Management page on Facebook for their frequent updates on evacuation levels and inciweb.org for details on fire growth or containment.
When there’s a tragic loss of life, however, as there was in the Twisp River Fire, the national news gets involved. When that happened, friends from Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Tucson contacted me to see if I was safe. They heard the name “Twisp” and saw cataclysmic fire photos on their local network affiliates. After watching one national evening news broadcast, I understood why those friends seemed surprised to find that my house was still standing.
During the Twisp fire blowup and subsequent evacuation, Stephanie and James Mitchell and their kids went to Balky Hill to stay with family. It was surreal for them to watch the actual fire burning across the way as a Spokane TV station was showing video of the same scene. Stephanie shared a sweet anecdote about her daughter Jadyn, who on getting her stuff together to evacuate, insisted on finding her library books so they wouldn’t burn.
Joanne Burch, “the pie lady” at the Farmers Market, had eggs and pies, bags and baskets for sale on Aug. 29 and Sept. 5. Fire touched her Riverside property, but she and her husband and her hens were saved. Joanne was interviewed live on a Spokane TV station; her husband made the national news!
Two friends sent a clipping from page one of the Wall Street Journal. The headline reads, “Washington State Wildfire Takes Toll.” Twisp, “a town of about 900 people in north-central Washington,” appears in the third paragraph.
The “Fallen Heroes Memorial,” held in Wenatchee on Aug. 30, was broadcast live on television statewide. The service can be seen on the KHQ website at www.khq.com/story/29918241/hundreds-gather-to-remember-fallen-firefighters.
Jennifer and Ski Zbyszewski both spoke with dignity and love for their son Tom. Ski read Kipling’s poem “If.” The poem’s final stanza is especially poignant and fitting:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more– you’ll be a man, my son!
Willie and Johnnie Duguay and their cousin, Luke Mendro, spent their summer fighting fires with Bill Duguay’s outfit, Methow Wildfire. Johnnie, a sophomore at Gonzaga, will spend her first semester in Cambodia. Willie, a freshman at the same school, moved into his dorm but returned to the valley for his friend Tom Zbyszewski’s memorial at Liberty Bell High School on Sunday (Sept. 6). I think Bill is back on the job, as local crews continue to mop up fires around the county.
Parking spaces in front of Cinnamon Twisp Bakery and Logan’s Steak House were full Sunday afternoon during the memorial service at the high school, so I conclude that visitors returned for the Labor Day weekend. Locals as well as visitors supported Twisp Library Friends’ book sale in the Methow Valley Community Center gym, where books were discounted and $700 was raised for fire relief.