Crews From Across The State Pitch In

SPOKANE — Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Bill Clifford drove up through the fire zone Friday morning, checking on the fire lines and with each crew who had come from across the state to help knock out the Valley View Fire.

One crew is from Moses Lake, another from Almira. The crews got the call for help Thursday night.

“We got called about 8:30 last night, showed up here about 1:30,” Brad Bjorn with the Moses Lake Fire Department said. “And went to bed got up at six got briefed and been out here ever since.”

Bjorn says they’re keeping a close eye on one house now in ruins.

“If there’s flames we’ll knock them down, just make sure its not going anywhere,” Bjorn said.

He’s one of dozens of firefighters from across the state helping fight this fire after the state of emergency declaration made statewide assistance possible.

So far Bjorn says the weather is making it easier for crews to keep the flare ups under control.

“It’s a little cooler than it was out yesterday and it was pretty warm yesterday so I’ve been out in 100 degree weather fighting fire so today it’s fairly comfortable out here,” he said.

The integration of crews from across the state may have been helped by the fact that the Valley View Fire actually happened one month ago as well.

Several weeks ago a fire training scenario was held in the Dishman Hills with a fire about the same size and moving in about the same way as Thursday’s fire.

The training exercise was designed to give new members of area fire and police teams the chance to work together and one of the purposes was to refine communication and evacuation during a massive fire.

One month later the fire crews and police officers were back in the training area only this time it was for real.

Some people familiar with the exercise said some things in the exercise did not go particularly well.

“Anytime you have a large operation, there is always that potential and no matter how good you think you have your plan, there seems to be that unforeseen Murphy standard,” Cheney Fire Chief Mike Winters said.

Chief Winters said that there were a few times during Thursday night where some information was given by people away from the command post when it wasn’t in concert with what was actually going on.

By Friday morning Winters says all the kinks had been worked out and that improving communications during a major event like the Valley View Fire is a constant process.