Massive fire destroys home in VerlotBY CHUCK TUCK | JOURNAL REPORTER Firefighters from Getchell, Granite Falls, Grill Valley, Lake Stevens, Lake Roesiger, and Arlington Heights were dispatched to a massive house fire on Saturday afternoon in Verlot. Getchell Fire Chief Travis Hots was one of the firefighters on duty and dispatched to the scene.
“The reason that we had such a massive response is the fact that the nearest fire hydrant is ten miles away up there, and so all the water used to put the fire out had to be trucked in with water tenders, so we relied on all those other fire districts to bring water to the scene,” Hots said.
Hots said tenders are used when an insufficient supply of water is on location.
A tender can hold anywhere from 2,500 to 3,500 gallons of water in what looks like a large swimming pool.
Then, a floating or submersible pump placed in the tender and used to fill attack trucks (fire engines that are on the frontline of a fire) while other fire engines replenish the tender with water supplied from distant locations.
Tenders are also used in hard to reach areas where fire engines cannot go. This was a necessary method of fighting the fire due to the remote location of the fire.
“The fire was off of mile marker 16, which is about five miles past the Verlot Ranger Station off Mountain Loop Hwy,” Hots added.
By the time the fire departments reached the scene, the house was already at a loss.
“When the crews arrived on the seen, they found a house that was fully engulfed in flames and beginning to collapse in on itself,” Hots said. “The house was a total loss,” he added.
What made the fire more dangerous and difficult to fight, was the amount of snow on the ground according to Hots.
“Something unusual about the fire up there is the fact that there was so much snow. In fact, the road is narrowed because of the snow banks and the plows are running out of room to put the snow. So basically, the Mountain Loop Highway has been narrowed down to about a lane and-a-half at best in that area so we were dealing with that,” Hots commented.
Hots said as a young boy he used to play in the area and can’t remember the last time the snow was that deep.
“The entire area around the structure fire there was approximately three, maybe more feet of snow that the firefighter’s had to wade through. They literally were sinking up to their waists in snow. It made for a pretty difficult fire fight to say the least,” he said.
As for past situations, Hots said that this was definitely a unique situation that they have not encountered before because of all the snow.
When fighting fires in such remote places, Hots reminds everyone that time is of the essence. As soon as you see or smell smoke or fire, quickly verify it and immediately call for help.