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Wildfire burns 20-plus acres above Beckett Point

by MARK ST.J. COUHIG

Winds whipping up to 20 mph contributed to the rapid spread of a Labor Day brush fire on a hillside overlooking Beckett Point Fisherman’s Club in Beckett Point.

Beckett Point is 10 miles west of Port Townsend, approximately halfway down the east side of Discovery Bay.

Bill Beezley, public information officer for East Jefferson Fire Rescue, said the fire burned about 21 acres. Smoke from the fire eventually covered much of the Discovery Bay area.


Firefighters scrambled to protect a house in Beckett Point by removing flammable materials from the roof. Photo by James Brown

The fire spread up a 35-degree bank, making the work of the firefighters more difficult, Beezley said. Eventually, a Department of Natural Resources helicopter was called in to make “eight to ten water drops” to contain the blaze.

Firefighters from East Jefferson Fire Rescue, Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue and Naval Magazine Indian Island were soon joined by several 20-man hand crews from DNR in battling the blaze.

Task force crews consisting of both career and volunteer firefighters also were sent by Clallam District 3 and Kitsap County fire departments. At one point, nearly 100 firefighters were working the fire.


Brisk winds and a 35-degree rise made the work of bringing the Beckett Point fire under control much more difficult. Photo by Crystal Craig

Crews from Fire District 2 (Quilcene) and 5 (Discovery Bay) provided EMS support within District 1 while EJFR firefighters were on scene.

Houses and residents spared

Beckett Point residents were advised to evacuate the area.

Although no houses were damaged, residents had to sweat out some anxious moments. Scorched areas reached within 40 feet of several residences on the hillside.

“The crews made a couple great saves on several homes,” said EJFR Chief Gordon Pomeroy.

By about 5:30 p.m., winds had died down and firefighters began gaining ground on the blaze.

DNR forester Pat Halford estimated that as of 10 p.m. the fire was 70 percent under control and 30 percent contained.

The mop-up period after the fire is out should last about four days, according to Halford. On the third day following the fire, infrared teams will be brought in to search for residual hotspots.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office.

Peter Loeb, Clallam County Fire Department 3 public information officer, said the response to the fire provided a textbook example of “Really good interagency cooperation.” He noted that cooperation pays dividends. “If something got out of hand here, Sequim citizens can expect the support from neighboring agencies.”

Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.


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