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Woman in the frontlines of Williams Lake fire captures moments flames roared

Before fire crews got to the fire near Williams Lake, Kathy Meader was there to capture its early stages.
Credit: Kathy Meader

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — The speed at which the Williams Lake fire grew caught everyone by surprise. But that didn't stop a local photographer from capturing its movement early on. Kathy Meader, a photographer at the scene early on, shared with KREM 2 what she experienced before Cheney Plaza road was evacuated. 

Kathy stood on Cheney Plaza Road and watched the fire grow into what she calls a fast-moving monster. 

Kathy was out grocery shopping when she noticed a plume of smoke forming in the sky. As a longtime photographer, she quickly packed up and went to get a closer look. When she reached Cheney Plaza road, Kathy was stunned at how fast the fire raced from one cluster of trees to the next, leaving scorched earth in its path. She napped about a hundred photos of the flames. And suddenly noticed cattle nearby. As a lover of nature and animals, she worried for their safety. 

"Cows were right here. A whole heard of them," Kathy Mead showed KREM 2's Amanda Roley. "I really thought they were going to burn to death, and that scared me." 

Kathy says she did see a few trucks with trailers race into the area and assumes they helped evacuate those animals. The Cheney Rodeo grounds are open for large animal evacuations. As of Thursday afternoon, several horses were already there. 

While Kathy is drawn to photographing fires, she also knows the heartbreak that comes with them. She told me she lost two homes to wildfires and is hopeful none of the families who are now evacuated will have to go through the same. 

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