Colville Business Council Chairman: Quick Work By Emergency Fire Responders
Incident: Buffalo Lake Road Wildfire
August 17, 2012
For Immediate Release
NESPELEM, WA The Colville Tribal Business Council is grateful for the quick actions of the Colville Tribes' emergency responders, as well as the efforts of local, state and federal agencies which helped to contain the Buffalo Lake Road Fire, CBC Chairman John Sirois said today.
"Without the immediate and well-coordinated actions of these emergency response teams, this fire could well have been more devastating than it was," Sirois said. "While the loss of rangeland vegetation and trees to a wildfire is always regrettable, the quick response assured that there was no loss of life or extensive damage to structures in the fire's path. We are very thankful for that."
The fire began at the intersection of Buffalo Lake Road and Peter Dan Road at approximately 8 p.m. on August 14. Within minutes it spread, igniting dry grass and sage fuels, and roared downhill, threatening the communities of Elmer City and Coulee Dam. Tribal Fire & Rescue personnel worked under the Incident Command System (ICS) with local fire departments to provide structural protection to houses threatened by the blaze. As a result, no homes were lost.
"Firefighters and public safety officials from several jurisdictions worked together in an extraordinary effort that ultimately helped save the lives and property of people in the path of the blaze," Sirois said. "This was an excellent example how we can work together in an emergency situation to protect our citizens and our communities."
Tribal Emergency Management personnel coordinated with other agencies to assess the need for evacuation, and Tribal Police went door to door, notifying residents of the Level II (voluntary) evacuation, while Tribal Fire & Rescue personnel notified residents of the Level III (mandatory) evacuation at the fire's point of origin. Law Enforcement also helped to establish road closure and provide traffic control to make sure evacuees were able to leave the area in a safe and orderly manner. Tribal Occupational Safety and Health Administration personnel assisted with road closures and resource coordination. Off-duty Tribal Corrections personnel were called in to support these efforts.
"Law enforcement officers stayed at the scene through the night to help protect the firefighters battling the fire," Sirois said. "The Colville Business Council is very proud of the Tribal Emergency Response Team. Their professionalism continues to reflect positively on the Colville Tribes."
Although the fire is estimated to have charred approximately 10,962 acres, "the dedication of all the emergency response teams paid off." Sirois said.
"We are grateful for the efforts of everyone, from every agency, who did their utmost to assure that this destructive wildfire caused no significant losses of property or life left," he said. "Lim limt-thank you all very much."
For more information, contact John Sirois, 509-634-2212.