Toledo among those sending firefighters to Cottonwood 2 Fire

Stephen Floyd


Local firefighters are among those responding to Cottonwood 2 Fire in Yakima County as part of a state-wide effort to mobilize wildfire strike teams.

Captain Tracy Summers, of Lewis County Fire District 2, in Toledo, was dispatched as a strike team leader and will be working with teams and equipment from Toledo, Napavine and Thurston County.

The Cottonwood 2 Fire, which began just yesterday, was spotted around 10:30 a.m., nine miles west of city of Selah, and had grown to cover an area of roughly 6,000 acres by that evening.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office said a Level 3 evacuation orders are in effect for nearby residences, adding an estimated 45 are being threatened by the fire.

District 2 Chief Grant Wiltbank commented this is the first of multiple expected responses during the 2014 wildfire season, and said these types of experiences for his firefighters result in valuable experience being brought back to the local area.

“They get to see intense fire behavior,” said Wiltbank, stating his firefighters are then better prepared to respond quickly and decisively to wildfires in the local area after battling them on a larger scale.

“This is really one of his passions,” Wiltbank added about Summers, who is certified to teach wildfire training and is planning to do so for District 2 members on June 28 at an overgrown property donated for such purposes in the Toledo area.

Wiltbank said a typical response from local firefighters will last around two or three days for a wildfire of this nature, adding the state is allowed to call on them for up to two weeks in extreme cases.