I wrote last week about the vital role local newspapers play during fire season. Since then, as you may have heard, a few more fires broke out. Also since then, I have realized a few things about this place and the people who live here.
I am struck, once again, by the selflessness and bravery of firefighters: men and women who run toward a mountain of explosive fire when most normal people are running the other way, quickly.
I am impressed by the professionalism and dedication of reporters here at The World, who worked long days and nights gathering information direct from the fire lines and pushing their updates out onto The World’s website, Facebook and Twitter feeds. (We added a scrolling news ticker to the top of the homepage that is updated regulary, as well.)
World photographer Mike Bonnicksen made it into Pateros Thursday night via back roads after Highway 97 was closed, and his photographs from that night and on into Friday morning are absolutely terrifying. Don Seabrook went up in a plane Friday to get those incredible aerial shots of Pateros and surrounding areas that captured the scope of the Carlton Complex Fire and the randomness of its path — burning one house, skipping over the next. Thanks to social media, these images have been seen around the world, and they will be what most people think of when they remember this summer’s fires.
Many kind readers noticed the good reporting and photography work and said so on Facebook. Mary Moro commented: “The Wenatchee World has proven to be the best place to get news in times of emergencies or other reasons for much of Washington state. They have truly used social networking in a way that has allowed everyone to stay informed and able to share the information with the rest of the country and world. Thanks Wenatchee World for staying on top of the current crisis in our state and working around the clock to keep us all informed.”
More than anything else, I am impressed by the generosity of this North Central Washington community. Waking Friday morning to those awful images of the fire’s burnt path through Pateros, the first question many people here asked in the face of such loss was, “How can I help?”
The offers came pouring in on our Facebook page – food, pet supplies, guest bedrooms. Local companies – Dick’s Towing, Four Lakes Winery, Arlberg Sports and many others – organized clothing and fundraising drives, and hauled truckloads of donations up to the fire victims. To keep track of it all, World intern Holly Thorpe created and continues to update a list of organizations accepting donations, and it remains up on wenatcheeworld.com.
Offers of money and help, kind words, and photos — readers shared them all. A handful of their photos are included below. Many more can be found at wenatcheeworld.com/photos/galleries.