Thank you, firefighters | Letter

I am writing on behalf of all Helsell family members to express a huge thank you to all the fire fighters who helped to fight a wildfire in a challenging location on the west side of our property

on June 5 and 6 . It was a very traumatic event and a big wake-up call – especially in light of the concern that our family feels about the threat that wildfire poses to the beautiful land on which we are so lucky to live.

We have great appreciation and respect for all OIFR firefighters as well as the firefighters from San Juan Island, Lopez Island and members of a DNR crew who joined in. Special thanks to Fire Marshal Chad Kimple and OIFR Chief Holly vanSchaick – your frequent communication about progress in controlling the fire was very much appreciated. And to all of the other personnel who responded, you are an amazing group – it was impressive to work with you. And thank you, as well, to Velma and Vicky and other members of the auxiliary for your support. And to Matt and Sarah Rehder for spotting the fire and quickly reporting it.

Besides our worry for the land, our concern for the safety of our firefighters reinforces the responsibility we all share to be vigilant in our efforts to prevent wildfires and to work to keep our forests fire-safe. It is more than ironic that this fire followed a 60-day project in which family members worked over 400 hours to clean up slash from our recent thinning project to reduce the risk of wildfires.

All island residents should feel so lucky to have such a dedicated and talented crew of firefighters in San Juan County. Thank you again to a wonderful group of people who are an incredible asset to our community.

Pete and Deborah Helsell

Orcas Island