St. Mary's Mission threatened by wildfire near Omak



Posted on October 2, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 3 at 12:00 AM

OMAK, Wash. -- Fire managers say a 1,000-acre wildfire burning on tribal land near Omak, Wash. has burned structures and is threatening the historic St. Mary’s Mission.

An unknown number of students at the Paschal Sherman Indian School are evacuated. Those evacuated include students who board at the school overnight. 30 students are being lodged at the Okanogan Inn. The other students were released to their parents. Classes are canceled Wednesday.

Fire managers also issued a Level 3 Evacuation for residents near the St. Mary's Mission. Residents near Haley Creek Road were notified of a Level 2 Evacuation and were on standby for a Level 3 Evacuation order. Residents near Kartar Road were notified of a Level 1 Evacuation.

The Colville Tribe has called for additional resources, but a spokesperson for the tribe did not expect the Washington State Incident Command Team 1 to be available until Wednesday.

Winds in the area were 30 to 40 miles per hour in the early evening hours. By 8:30 p.m., they had reduced to 20 to 30 miles per hour. Officials said several homes are in danger.

The fire is burning south of Highway 155 near the Mission turn off. The wind is driving the flames toward the lake. There are several homes in that area. Some structures have burned, but it is unclear if those structures are homes or out-buildings.

Two DNR helicopters were assisting, using water from the Okanogan River and Omak Lake. As night fell, those helicopters were not able to be used.

Fire managers originally estimated the size of the fire was 100 to 200 acres. By 8:30 p.m., the fire had grown to 1,000 acres.

Columbia River Road and St. Mary’s Road were closed Tuesday evening because of the fire.

Officials from the Mount Tolman Fire Center are managing the fire, assisted by Okanogan County Fire, the City of Omak, and the City of Malott.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.