Fire crews, homeowners learn lessons from '91 firestorm

There is many things area homeowners and fire departments took away from the firestorm 25 years ago.KREM 2's Alexa Block has the story

NINE MILE FALLS, Wash. --- Larry Edmonds has lived in the Four Mound Road area for years. He was also there when Washington’s historic firestorm swept through the area.

"Who would have thought this would have happened," said Edmonds.

He described it as ‘surreal’ as he made his way out to the fire line to help out.

“From our house we saw basically smoke,” said Edmonds.

He said his family, animals and home were safe but other’s weren’t as lucky.

 "People lost their homes and down over the hill a person actually lost their life that day, so it was one of those things that you remember," said Edmonds.  

October 16 marks a quarter century since the infamous firestorm. Dozens of fast moving fires destroyed 114 homes and scorched thousands of acres.

After the firestorm died down firefighters and homeowners learned valuable things about the dangers of wildfires. And those lessons have allowed firefighters to save lives and property in the years since.

Guy Gifford of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources said the firestorm gave way to new legislation to provide more resources to crews fighting large fires.

Gifford said there was also a study conducted about ‘defensible’ space. 

"What we learned from firestorm was what we call 'defensible space'. A case study was done on the firestorm about why did some homes burn and why did some homes survive,” said Gifford.

He said homes with defensible space were more likely to survive a fire.

Spokane County Fire District Five in Nine Mile Falls is a location where people’s tree debris is sometimes shredded. This is part of the Fire Wise Communities program that was started after the firestorm. It's an effort to get every home in an area fire protected. 
 

Edmonds is a proud member of a Fire Wise community. On the 25th Anniversary of the Firestorm the Four Mound community was given a Fire Wise Communities certificate.

Gifford added since the firestorm stations implemented a new system to answer calls after the firestorm. The closest fire crews respond to a call, even if it's not in their district. They'll try to keep the fire small until the district fire crew arrives.

Also there were improvements made to how fire crews communicate with one another.

(© 2016 KREM)


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