Shirley Chalfont recalled on Sunday her mad dash to flee a brush fire t
WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) _ Shirley Chalfont recalled on Sunday her mad dash to flee a brush fire that reduced her neighborhood of elegantly landscaped homes with Columbia River views to piles of blackened debris marked by lonely chimneys.
A smoky haze remained over the Rocklund Place neighborhood following the destruction Saturday caused by a fire pushed down grassy mountain slopes by 60 mph winds.
″I grabbed my dog and my purse and a couple of file drawers and that’s it,″ said Chalfont, who spent Sunday picking through the blackened beams, ruined furniture and collapsed walls of her two-story home.
Disaster led to understatement.
″This is not what I wanted to do today,″ said Chalfont, her fingers black with soot.
More than 30 homes and apartments were destroyed in the blaze caused by a campfire that got out of control. The children responsible were released to their parents, who authorities said may be sued for damages.
Calmer winds Sunday helped firefighters virtually contain the fire that burned across 3,500 acres of brush in this city of 20,000 residents about 100 miles east of Seattle.
Preliminary damage estimates placed the cost at $3 million, said Scott Lowers, head of Chelan County Emergency Management.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Greg Thayer said 20 homes and 12 apartments were destroyed, along with nine vehicles, four travel trailers and four boats.
Barbara Stull stood next to the charred foundation of her hillside home and looked at two boxes of valuables at her feet, spared from the flames by a fireproof safe.
She talked with her insurance agent and lamented lost genealogical records and family videotapes. Little was left of her home except for the foundation and twisted metal appliances.
″We had just gone to the store and 30 minutes later we saw the smoke and couldn’t get back in,″ she said.
Four firefighters were treated for smoke-related injuries Saturday, but no residents were hurt.
Three children firefighters found near the brushfire said they had started a campfire on the hill and it got away from them because of the high winds.
The county sheriff’s department was investigating and Thayer said it was likely the case would end up in court. He said it was possible the youths’ parents could be sued along with their insurance companies for damages.