Firefighters from Okanogan County Fire District 6 were able to limit damage from a house fire on Bridge Street in Twisp on Saturday (March 23), but the district had to put out an additional call for firefighters to get the job done.
The fire apparently started in an electrical panel on the exterior of the house near the kitchen around 10 a.m., said District 6 Fire Chief Cody Acord. “Twisp and Winthrop initially toned out,” Acord said.
An engine from Twisp arrived first with Acord and three firefighters. The house was filled with smoke and the fire was spreading into the kitchen when the engine arrived, Acord said.
Two of the firefighters on the Twisp engine were qualified by training to enter the building, but couldn’t enter until a second engine from Winthrop arrived with additional firefighters, Acord said. Until additional firefighters arrived, firefighters “did exterior work,” spraying water through windows into the house.
“We had to wait for Winthrop to show up to have enough people to go inside. Once we had enough people to go inside, they did a good job knocking it down,” Acord said. “The biggest thing was the response, making sure we had enough.”
Engines from Carlton and Mazama also arrived, and the district put out another call for more firefighters about 20-30 minutes after the first engine arrived, Acord said.
As a mostly volunteer fire department, “it can be a challenge to have enough firefighters” to respond to calls, Acord said. “Once we were able to get enough folks on scene, we did a really good job keeping it inside and keeping it contained.”
Acord estimated about 15 firefighters were eventually on the scene. “If no additional people had shown up, we would have looked at mutual aid” with an outside fire department like Okanogan or Brewster, he said.
The owner of the house, Chuck Hutson, was home and tried to shut off the electrical panel after he saw “sparks and noises coming from there,” but fire had already begun to spread, Acord said. Hutson left the house unharmed, Acord said.
Fire damage was limited mainly to the kitchen and laundry room. Firefighters prevented the fire from spreading into a second story, Acord said. The house had smoke damage and damage from water used to fight the fire. Crews left the scene about 2 p.m., Acord said.