SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — After two weeks of assisting with one of the state’s largest wildfires, a team from the Spokane Valley Fire Department has finally returned home.
The local responders were in Omak helping with the Cold Springs Fire that destroyed everything in its path and forced level three evacuations.
“We’re there supporting the incident command team and making sure the firefighters on the line had communication. Mostly for emergency situations,” explained SVFD engineer Shawn Pichette.
In total, nearly 200,000 acres of land were ravaged by the Cold Springs Fire. 138 structures were either completely lost or damaged.
With such a threat looming, resources throughout the entire state of Washington had to be deployed. Spokane Valley firefighters were a part of those relief efforts with their communications trailer.
“We were challenged with trying to cover that southern part of our fire with radios. The only place I could put a radio repeater was right smack in the middle of the Pearl Hill Fire,” Pichette said.
In low signal areas like Omak, their tools were vital to the command post along with the firefighters working on the ground and in the air.
Cell phone boosters and radios were put to use while the flames were being contained.
“Historically we would go for five to six days and have the fire wrapped up and come back home,” Pichette detailed. “Now, the last three summers I went out 20 days in a row, 21 days in a row and this year we were out for 13.”
The men and women who serve in these positions are ready to go in a moment’s notice.
It’s something that both them and their families have to mentally prepare for but it’s work that saves lives every year.
Pichette and the rest of his team returned to the Valley last night without much time to rest before getting back to their normal routine.
“It’s a juggle but it comes with the sacrifice of being to go out and help communities like Omak, Brewster or Bridgeport and places like that,” he said.