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SJ firefighters assist in battle for ‘Taylor Bridge’

When the alarm sounds, firefighters respond.

The State Fire Marshal answered calls last week from beleaguered central Washington firefighters by asking the San Juan Island Fire Department, if they could help. Chief Marler said yes, and within a few hours two fire engines and four firefighters were on their way to the Taylor Bridge Fire near Cle Elum.

“Of course we responded,” said Marler. “That’s what we’re trained to do, and that's what we did. It’s hard, dangerous work, but the guys love to be on the front lines of a fire and firefighters left here would love to be there,” the Chief said.

Nearly 1,000 firefighters from around the state have been battling the big wildlands fire near Cle Elum.  When the four locals left San Juan Island, the “Taylor Bridge” fire was rapidly growing, threatening multiple homes and power lines, and was completely uncontained. Forty-eight homes have been destroyed, and 60 more were threatened, by the biggest fire in Washington this year.

Since arriving at the fire, Lieutenant Tad Lean and Firefighters Michael Henderson, Matthew Dobbs and Joseph Foriska have been working the night shift, keeping the fire from jumping containment lines and looking for spot fires.  By Monday morning, the fire had burned more than 23,000 acres but was nearly 50 percent contained, with 100 percent containment expected by Tuesday night.

“There’s still a lot of hard, dirty, smoky work to be done,” said Marler, “But I’m proud of the guys and hope they’ll be home by the end of the week.”

San Juan Island Fire Rescue participated in the Statewide Fire Mobilization System, coordinated by the State Fire Marshal.  The system reimburses participating agencies for their costs. The firefighters that participate gain valuable experience they bring back to share with all of the island’s firefighters.

— Steve Wehrly/Journal reporter

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