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Nespelem fire evacuees returning home

About 50 patients from an assisted living home in Nespelem were evacuated overnight after a wildfire threatened an area of the town for several hours.

American Red Cross officials said they dispatched an emergency disaster unit to the Colville Indian Reservation town to care for the patients and other residents during the evacuation.

Sheron Sheldon, the Red Cross’s executive director for the north Cascades and Okanogan regions, said that the evacuation also involved residents of a senior apartment facility and about 25 homes in the White Buffalo neighborhood.

She said the Red Cross unit was delayed by an accident on state Highway 155 at Disautel Pass, but law officers were able to get the rig through the accident scene.

Shelters were set up at a Roman Catholic church and the community center in Nespelem while firefighters brought the fire under control by early this morning. Residents were allowed to return home. However, the assisted living home patients were kept overnight at the community center.

Sheldon said the disaster centers were set up by volunteers, who left the patients in the care of the home’s staff. “Our volunteers were fabulous,” she said.

Information on the fire’s cause and subsequent damage was not immediately available. Sheldon said the fire for a time blocked the state highway on the south side of Nespelem.