OKANOGAN – Okanogan County suffered some damage to infrastructure from the Cold Mountain Fire in terms of guardrail damage and lost radio equipment.
So far, damage does not appear to be extensive, said Josh Thomson, director of public works and county engineer.
“We have about 45 burned guardrail posts at Cook Lake on Cameron Lake Road, and many signs burned throughout the fire area,” he said. “There is a lot more burned guardrail on Columbia River Road along Omak Lake, but that is a (Bureau of Indian Affairs) road, not county jurisdiction.”
Information about damage to BIA roads was not available at press time.
“We will have many dead standing trees to deal with this fall,” Thomson added.
The county lost radio equipment when fire swept over Pitcher Mountain, southeast of Okanogan, where communications equipment for several agencies is housed.
“Communication between public works vehicles is not impacted, but connection to the office has been lost,” Thomson said. “This, compounded with land line and some cell carriers being out of service, has made communication a bit more difficult with entities outside of public works.”
Okanogan County Commissioner Chris Branch, in whose district the fire started, said the county has started to assess damage and relief options with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and others for roads and in other areas.
“We declared an emergency on Tuesday (Sept. 8) and the state has as well,” he said. “Yes, we intend to seek all assistance available.”
Once fire activity and wind calmed down a bit, the county deployed seven water trucks on its roads to help keep them in passable condition with increased fire and stock truck traffic, Thomson said.
County water trucks were not actively engaged in firefighting activities.
“We are coordinating road closures with emergency management and the crews restoring power poles and infrastructure,” Thomson said.
The state Department of Transportation still is assessing damage to its road infrastructure, said spokeswoman Lauren Loebsack, Wenatchee.