By Marcy Stamper
A late-afternoon fire destroyed a mobile home on Rendezvous Road outside Winthrop on Friday (July 6).
The fire started underneath the mobile home and worked its way up the walls, and the structure was fully involved within 20 minutes, said Rusty Stamps, assistant fire chief for Okanogan County Fire District 6 and incident commander at the fire.
The home was occupied but the resident was not home when the fire started, said Stamps, who had no additional information.
In addition to about 20 firefighters from District 6, crews from the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Forest Service were on hand to make sure the fire didn’t spread to wildlands near the house. Embers ignited a small grass fire on the hillside near the house, which crews contained while it was still under 1/6 acre, said Stamps.
Two engines from Methow and Pateros, part of Okanogan County Fire District 15, were also called in to relieve the local firefighters in the heat, said Stamps. With firefighters wearing full structure-protective gear, they aim to give them a break every 20 minutes – or even more often – because exhaustion is a significant risk, he said. Aero Methow Rescue Service was on hand as a back-up.
The fire was knocked down by about 7:30 p.m., three-and-a-half hours after it was reported, said Stamps. The cause is still under investigation.
Wildfire danger is considered “high” in Okanogan County. All outdoor burning is prohibited on private and state lands. Campfires are permitted in approved, designated campgrounds managed by DNR. Campfires are also permitted in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and at Pearrygin Lake and Alta Lake state parks.
Even where fires are allowed, land managers urge caution and emphasize that campfires must be completely extinguished and cold to the touch.