Fire Destroys Historic Structures on Colville ReservationPosted: Updated:
Nespelem, WA - A fire yesterday has destroyed two buildings on the Nespelem Agency campus of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, including the old trading post store and a structure which housed Colville Business Council Meetings. No one was injured in the blaze.
The structures, which date back to the turn of the Twentieth Century, were once headquarters for the Tribes' EMS program and later used to store caskets for its Enrollment Office. They have been vacant for several years.
The blaze also destroyed a cane truck and a backhoe, and jumped the road behind the buildings when a fuel tank exploded. Fire crews quickly contained the spread of the fire to about one acre on the hill just north of the campus.
The fire began at approximately 11:30 am, according to John Gonzales, Executive Director for the Tribes. Gonzales said firefighters from the Tribes' Mount Tolman Fire Control Center, the Tribe Fire Rescue Team, the US Bureau of Reclamation, Grand Coulee, Coulee Dam, Electric City, Elmer City, and the Nespelem PUD responded to the site.
"We're fortunate to have excellent Tribal firefighting teams here on the reservation, and good neighbors close at hand to assist us," Tribal Chairman Jeanne Jerred said. "We very much appreciate the help of our area fire departments, who responded quickly to this emergency."
The blaze threatened to spread to the building containing the Tribes' Information Technology systems, but crews were able to save the main IT building, Gonzales said. An adjacent storage building burned he said.
Both ground and air crews fought the fire, including a "helitac" water-bucket helicopter and an airplane that dropped fire retardant to stop the spread of the hillside blaze. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Colville Tribal Police Department.