ALTA LAKE, WA. – Homeowners in Okanogan County say they’ve seen a rash of looters rummaging through homes and destroyed properties affected by the Carlton Complex Fires. Homeowners told us they’ve learned of gas and generators stolen, as well as two ATV’s taken from a nearby state park.
Brian Varrelman owns the Whistlin’ Pines Ranch in Alta Lake and he says he’s prepared to do what it takes if thieves wander onto his property.
“We’re not just going to give up and say we survived a fire, now help yourselves to the goods,” Varrelman said. “With everything we did on a citizen basis alone, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them come in and help themselves."
Varrelman never evacuated when the fire stormed through his neighborhood last Thursday night. Instead he chose to help fight it and his efforts saved several nearby homes. Due to the blaze, his campground and outfitters store have shut down because there is no power in the area. Varrelman estimates his business suffered $200,000 in loss due to the fire.
Varrelman’s ranch hand Jake O’ Reilly is now helping Varrelman in protecting his property. He said he does not want to take action with his firearm, but will if necessary.
“Don’t come to Okanogan County with criminal intent,” O’ Reilly said as he waved his 44 mag. “If you come here bent on evil, there will be a healthy dose of justice for you.”
The Whistlin’ Pines Ranch hopes they can re-open their business soon. They are devastated by the blaze, especially since it happened during their peak season.
Firefighting crews said the 390-square-mile fire is now almost 60 percent contained.