By Ann McCreary
Okanogan County Fire District 6 responded to 228 emergency calls in 2017 and spent 1,884 hours on emergency responses. The activity is similar to 2016, which had 54 more calls and almost an equal amount of time spent on responses, according to a 2017 annual report by the district.
District firefighters worked at two significant wildfires in 2017, the Canyon Creek Fire and Diamond Creek Fire. The Canyon Creek Fire broke out along Highway 20 in early July, spread quickly and threatened homes. After two days of intense firefighting only two structures — an abandoned house and an outbuilding — were lost. District personnel spent six days working with the incident management team on the fire.
The Diamond Creek Fire, which burned in the Pasayten Wilderness, threatened homes in the Lost River, Mazama, Edelweiss and West Chewuch areas in late summer. The fire never spilled over into District 6 boundaries, however, District 6 personnel coordinated with the incident management team to develop plans to defend the community.
District firefighters began and ended 2017 responding to two residential structure fires in freezing temperatures. In late January, firefighters fought a fire in the Twin Lakes development for more than five hours, and contained the blaze to one end of the house. On Christmas Eve day, firefighters responded to a fire in a mobile home at the Rivers Edge Trailer Park, where they spent five hours on scene.
Of the 228 emergency calls in 2017, 78 were fires — structures, wildland or vehicles; 78 calls were for vehicle accidents; seven were for hazardous conditions, such as fuel spills or gas leaks; 21 were service calls, such as smoke or odor smells, animal rescues; 31 were “good intent calls,” related to controlled or unauthorized burning; and 13 were false alarms.
The district had 39 volunteer firefighters, including five new recruits, and four paid staff members at the end of 2107. Firefighters attended 5,044 hours of training, according to the annual report.
Residents in Winthrop and the district voted in February 2017 to annex the town into the district, which took effect in January 2018. A contract for fire protection services with Twisp was extended for three years.
Fire District 6 operates four stations in Winthrop, Twisp, Mazama and Carlton, and covers an area of about 350 square miles.