Peninsula firefighters helping battle blazes in Eastern Washington

North Olympic Peninsula firefighters are jumping from one blaze to another.

As soon as two, three-person teams from Clallam and Jefferson counties finished battling the Cheney-area Silver Lake Fire west of Spokane on Saturday, they were deployed to the Grass Valley Fire near Grand Coulee Dam, fire department officials said Monday.

The 300- to 400-acre Silver Lake Fire was dwarfed by what came next for the crews.

Initial news reports said the Grass Valley blaze covered about 1,000 acres by Saturday morning.

It grew to 45,000 acres by Saturday evening and 75,000 acres by Sunday, burning five outbuildings and sending one man — an Okanogan County volunteer firefighter — to Harborview Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

Clallam Fire District No. 2 Deputy Chief Jake Patterson and East Jefferson Fire-Rescue spokesman Bill Beezley said the two teams remained Monday at the fire west of Spokane with scores of other firefighters from agencies from across the state.

“We’re almost like a small version of California, with all the small, annual summer fires,” Beezley said.

The crews from Clallam and Jefferson counties, working independently, each had a brush fire truck they brought with them.

Clallam District No. 2 firefighters Tyler Reid, Sam Orr and Steven Bentley were dispatched with several other agencies as part of a fire engine strike team from the Puget Sound region Aug. 6 to fight the Silver Lake fire before moving on the Grass Valley blaze.

It began in Douglas County and now includes land in Grant County.

“The last update I had was they are actively trying to keep the fire away from structures in the populated area, so they are on the fire line,” Patterson said.

EJFR firefighters Gavin Rogers, Matt Stewart and Phyllis Speser said the three would be working with Fire District No. 2 as part of the overall mass of emergency personnel deployed.

“We’re happy to be able to contribute,” Beezley said.

Patterson said this was Fire District No. 2’s fourth or fifth deployment compared to one in 2017.

“About the time they are done with one fire, another one breaks out,” he said.

“They are just calling for help quicker to try to keep them small for the most part.

“There are more fires, too.”

Information on current deployments of firefighters from other area fire departments was unavailable Monday.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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