New lock delays Entiat firefighters as homes burn

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) - Not having a key to the freshly installed locks at a new fire station is just one of the problems for the all-volunteer department in Entiat.

Firefighters were delayed in rushing a truck to a mobile home fire Wednesday because the driver did not have the key, said Chelan Fire District 8 Chief Mike Asher.

Four firefighters who work nearby were already at the scene, but the volunteer who was expected to bring a truck couldn't enter the station. Asher said he had been out of town and missed the meeting where the new keys were handed out.

Locked out, he had to drive about a mile to pick up another firefighter who had the key.

The mix-up caused a 5- or 10-minute delay in fighting the fire. Flames apparently sparked by an electrical problem with a hot water heater spread from under one home along a fence to the next at a mobile home park. Occupants escaped safely.

The Entiat firefighters were assisted by firefighters from Chelan department in putting out the fire.

The timing of the fire Wednesday morning was another problem, Asher said Thursday.

The department has 40 volunteers on the roster, but 70 percent of them work outside of town. It's not like the days when most of the volunteers worked on nearby farms, he said.

"We're doing the best we can under the circumstances," he said.