NESPELEM, Wash. (AP) -- Fire has destroyed the administration building for the Colville Indian reservation in Nespelem.
The chairman of the governing business council, Mike Finley, says the three-story building is a total loss.
“For the first time in our government’s recent history, our legislative body and Administration is without a Headquarters. We are shocked and saddened at this development. Many irreplaceable Tribal and personal items were lost today. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The Tribal Governmental community, and the community at large, is pulling together beautifully around this event so that the Tribes can continue to operate in as seamless a manner as possible,” said Finley.
Finley says there were no known injuries. No one was believed to be in the building when the fire broke out about 1 a.m. Monday, and there's no indication how it started. It's not related to a wildfire.
The fire was reported around 1:15 Monday morning. Officers arrived on the scene minutes later and reported that the building was engulfed shortly after. Crews from the Bureau of Reclamation, Grand Coulee, and Coulee Dam all assisted the Colville Tribal Emergency Services fire crews. “We are very thankful for the assistance we received in fighting this fire,” added Finley.
The Tribal Headquarters was built in 1975 and housed the business council and support staff for the Confederated Tribes Of The Colville Reservation.
“Our priority is always to provide governmental services to the Tribal membership. We are working to establish temporary office space and supplies and will continue operations with minimal disruption. The new Tribal Government Center, which has been a priority for quite some time now, will be fast-tracked in order to meet the needs of the Tribal membership and government as quickly as possible,” Francis Somday, Executive Director of the Tribes said this morning. “Due to the age and construction materials of the building we lost, we were already concerned about the building and have been planning for new construction. This tragedy highlights the basis for our concerns and our need for a new center,” added Somday.
Finley says Colville tribal records were lost and services will be affected. The confederation has 12 tribes with 9,470 members and a 1.4 million reservation in northeast Washington.
The cause of the fire is being investigated, and work is being done to restore phone and email service to the Tribes.
If you can safely take pictures of the area or if you have pictures from the fire this morning, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.