Spokane Tribe powwow dedicated to those who helped fight fire

Wildfire won't stop Spokane Tribe's Powwow

WELLPINIT, Wash. – The town of Wellpinit is trying to get back to normal after a wildfire ripped through the town.

The Cayuse Mountain Fire started August 21. As of Thursday, the fire has burned more than 18,000 acres and is 95 percent contained. Officials said the fire has destroyed 14 homes.

A Spokane Tribal Business Councilman said it will be sometime before things get back to normal as those 14 people deal with losing their homes.

"The people that lost homes, they're being affected by it. The friends and families of those who lost homes are being affected by it still," said Tribal Business Councilman David BrownEagle. 

The tribe’s powwow started Thursday. Tribal leaders decided on Monday not to cancel the annual event. The decision was made after consulting with fire managers. If the containment lines were not holding or the weather was not favorable that could have been bad news. 

"If they would have recommended no pow wow, there would have been no pow wow," said BrownEagle.

This year, the powwow will be focused on giving thanks to all who helped during the fire. The powwow runs through Monday.

BrownEagle adds that tribal firefighters have been putting in hours and hours of work to battle the fire. It will take weeks for them to recover and get back into the normal swing of things. Down the road from the tribal administration building is the junior-senior high school. The fire pushed back the start of school by a few days.

"Knock on wood, but in the school, it feels like school is in session. There's a good vibe around and everything," said Principal Kris Herda. 

People dropped off donations for the victims at the school. Leftover donations will be given to the victims. The rest will be sold off at a charity yard sale on Saturday and Sunday. 

"As far as normal for being a community that cares about one another, I think that's above normal," said BrownEagle. 

BrownEagle said this is something we all should take away from this fire. It is not the amount of acres charred, but rather the number of hands that came to help out.

(© 2016 KREM)


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