DNR fire crews win praise from Yelm woman after they save her house

A wildfire came close to burning the home of Kathryn Burcham in the Yelm area over the weekend.
A wildfire came close to burning the home of Kathryn Burcham in the Yelm area over the weekend. Courtesy of Kathryn Burcham

A woman in the Yelm area had nothing but praise for state Department of Natural Resources’ firefighter crews Monday after they prevented a wildfire from burning her home over the weekend.

Kathryn Burcham’s two-story farmhouse was in the path of a fire that ultimately burned about seven acres in the area of 109th Avenue Southeast near Yelm.

Although the fire came close to the Burcham house, firefighters kept it at bay, she said.

“I’m so blessed and happy that our house is still there,” Burcham said, describing herself as “forever grateful.”

She added that the DNR crews have spent so much time around her house that she has gotten to know them. “They feel like my brothers,” she said.

The Burchams have lived in the house for four years, she said.

The fire, which started Saturday afternoon, is under control, but DNR crews were still on the ground Monday to take care of hot spots, DNR spokeswoman Janet Pearce said.

The fire started in pastureland and then moved into timberland, she said. The cause of the fire is under investigation, although it was thought to have been human caused. No lightning was reported in the area, she said.

Burcham, 32, first noticed smoke about 3 p.m. Saturday, so she took it upon herself to leave the area with her two children and pets and head to a nearby church. She also has chickens, so she freed them from the chicken coop and hoped for the best, Burcham said. All of the animals survived the fire, she said.

Once at the church, she stayed in contact with a neighbor and also watched as a helicopter began to drop water on the fire, retrieving water from a nearby lake every two minutes, she estimated.

She returned to her house about 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The fire continued to smolder and fire crews remained on the scene, she said.

The Burchams weren’t the only ones to evacuate. KIRO-TV reported Sunday that a wedding party had to relocate because of the fire.

Several local fire districts also responded to the blaze, including Lacey Fire District 3, Battalion Chief Steve Crimmins said Sunday.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403