Snoqualmie Valley residents have stepped up to support firefighters staying in town who are battling nearby wildfires.
Between 150 to 200 firefighters are residing at hotels in the Valley, including Snoqualmie Inn at Hotel America, North Bend Motel and Mt. Si Motel, as they battle the Loch Katrine Fire that is 13 miles outside of North Bend.
“It was a bunch of separate entities yesterday trying to find ways to help out,” said Tarah Smigun of the Snoqualmie Casino. “It all happened organically.”
On Oct. 20, the casino led the delivery of 100 lunches to firefighters at the North Bend Motel, Mt. Si Motel, Sunset Motel, the Snoqualmie Fire Department and the Snoqualmie Inn, Smigun said.
Casino staff are also working alongside the Snoqualmie Inn to serve dinner for 75 firefighters each night until at least Oct. 30.
The heartwarming community effort all kicked off with a Facebook post made by residents looking to help, said Laurie Hay, director of sales at Snoqualmie Inn. The Inn currently has at least 60 firefighters and is filling roughly 30 rooms, Hay said.
After seeing the post Oct. 18, Hay reached out and started a community message board at the hotel, making a sign with supplies from the dollar store, and encouraged residents to do the same. Within two hours, another sign was brought.
“And then everyone just started calling to see what they could do,” Hay said. “People started bringing in doughnuts from North Bend Bakery, cookies, muffins. It just kind of snowballed over the last couple days.”
The pop-up space at the hotel all spread via Facebook comments and word of mouth, she said. Several businesses including No Boat Brewery, Chickadee Bakeshop and Mod Pizza and local students provided donations.
“It’s been quite the community effort,” Hay said.
As of Oct. 24, the Loch Katrine Fire was at an estimated 1,918 acres, according to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Service.
The fire is currently 2% contained, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, but does not threaten any structures or residences. The cause of the fire is still undetermined.
Alongside the fire, air quality in the Valley last week reach the “very unhealthy” stage, and was among the worst in the U.S. Alongside weekend rainfall, the air quality in Snoqualmie had returned to healthy levels.