INCHELIUM, Wash. — The Inchelium Community Center has been running since 1974. Cindy Laramie has overseen the center for the last 6 years. So when a wildfire forces people to evacuate, she’s more than happy to help them out.
“I’ve lived here all my life. We cruise down that way every summer and we know people and that’s our game reserve,” Laramie said.
Evacuations notices in Ferry and Stevens counties expanded on Wednesday night due to a wildfire burning 34,000 acres on the Colville Reservation.
Lightning likely sparked the Williams Flats Fire on Friday after an early morning thunderstorm. It is burning within the Hellgate Game Preserve on the Colville Indian Reservation, about seven miles southeast of Keller, Washington.
The center is normally a spot to get away from the heat in the summer, but after helping out with wildfire evacuations before, they were prepared for this situation. Food, drinks, air condition and showers are provided for those who stay there. One family has already been able to reap the benefits while waiting out the fire.
Tammy Palmer and her family packed up their belongings in less than an hour and evacuated 32 miles away from the Williams Flats Fire.
“Our main thing was to get the animals, any medication, and our parent's ashes,” Palmer said.
They were able to get all of those and now it's just a waiting game to see how their home is holding up and when they will be able to go back.
“I didn’t sleep much last night, maybe half an hour because so much was going on in my head,” she said.
The center will continue to help those in need throughout the fire season.