Okanogan County Residents Look For Remnants Of Lives In Burned Homes

Jul 20, 2014

Residents of fire-ravaged central Washington say they're in a “state of shock.” Fires destroyed more houses over the weekend and prompted additional evacuation notices. Now, some people are sifting through the rubble of their former homes. Jessica Robinson has more from Okanogan County.

An entire block of what residents describe as “nice, two-story homes” was destroyed in the fire.
Credit Jessica Robinson

Kelsey Verbeck and her husband grabbed a few items before evacuating their home in Pateros, Wash. A diaper bag for their newborn. Work clothes for the next day.

Verbeck didn't think the wall of flames moving over the ridge would reach their house. They live right in town, just below a well-watered orchard.

Kelsey Verbeck: “So we thought we'd be fine. And within 15 minutes it was already down to Pateros burning the houses and just moving over super-fast. So we just got in the car and took off.”

Verbeck and her husband returned to a black and gray scar on the ground. She says they couldn't even find a lock box with birth certificates and social security cards. The box was supposed to be fireproof.

The governors of both Oregon and Washington have declared a state of emergency because of fires burning in their states. Crews are trying to make as much progress as they can before another round of lightning storms hits this week.

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