1-acre fire ruled accidental by DNR
A fire that burned 1 acre on the Golden Doe Wildlife Area in June was ignited when a worker spraying weeds parked his truck on dry vegetation, an investigator with the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) concluded.
“The fuels would have easily come in contact with the vehicle’s exhaust system, starting the fire,” DNR Fire Investigator Trainee Austin Vargas wrote in the investigation, which was completed July 9.
The Golden Doe Fire started in the morning on June 3. It burned 1 acre of grass, brush and timber before being controlled later that day.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) employee Alex Repp began spraying knapweed at the wildlife area around 6:15 a.m. Later that morning, he noticed smoke coming from under his spray truck, according to the investigation.
Repp grabbed a shovel and tried to extinguish the fire. He noticed three to four small spots burning and called 911 around 10:30 a.m. when he wasn’t able to put the fire out, he wrote in a voluntary statement.
When Repp left the scene to guide fire crews to the area, the fire was still burning in the field. When they returned, the fire was pushing upslope out of the grass, with a single tree torching, he wrote.
Repp assisted the firefighters by laying hoses and helped attack the fire until other firefighters arrived.
DNR investigators identified the origin area of the fire and saw tire tracks that went through the area. Repp confirmed that they were his tracks. The investigators found no other possible causes of the fire, Vargas wrote. DNR Wildland Fire Investigator Jimmy Nick assisted Vargas with the investigation.
DNR isn’t seeking reimbursement for fire suppression because it was an accidental start and didn’t spread to other property. Because Repp called 911 immediately and directed fire crews to the fire, they were able to stop the fire quickly, according to DNR documents.
Firefighters from DNR, Okanogan County Fire District 6 and the U.S. Forest Service all responded to the fire. They had a line around the fire in about three hours and spent another five hours securing it, Okanogan County Fire District 6 Chief Cody Acord said in June. Water drops from a DNR helicopter helped control the blaze, which was about 1/4 mile from the Twisp-Carlton Road.
Separate truck accident
Later that day, a second incident occurred at the scene of the fire. A truck that arrived to refill a water tank hit a boulder, breaking the tie rod. Crews were able to fill the tank and then “limped” the truck back to the Twisp-Carlton Road to await a tow truck, according to the supervisor’s investigation of the vehicle incident, which was separate from the fire investigation. No one was injured.
From the truck incident, the crews learned that they need to do a 360-degree scan around a vehicle before moving it, and to ascertain there are no obstacles on the ground, according to the investigation.
The documents were obtained by the Methow Valley News through a public records request.