The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Firefighters hone skills on unwanted boat


The Puget Island and Skamokawa Fire Departments keep a close watch on a boat as it burned on Puget Island.

No good deed goes unpunished, unless you're the Puget Island Fire Department.

The department, with an assist from the Skamokawa Fire Department, got a little practice last Thursday after they agreed to burn a boat on Olaf Thomason's property.

The boat had no special meaning for Thomason. A few years ago, a fellow from Onalaska with an ailing wife entreated Thomason to take the boat, which had been moored at the Elochoman Slough Marina. Thomason had reservations but agreed, believing the man would return to pick up the boat at a later time.

"It's not gospel," Thomason said, but he was told that the old boat had been built for speed during Prohibition to combat moonshine and the smuggling of alcohol.

Some time passed and the man had not returned to pick up his property. Thomason called him and offered to bring the boat to Onalaska. The man declined.

A couple potential buyers showed interest in the boat, but it never went anywhere.

So Thomason decided to burn it. He burned half of it before deciding to approach the PIFD.

The department burned the boat on Thursday and used the time to practice protecting everything else nearby. They kept a close eye on the fire and used the hoses to keep fences wet.

Puget Island Fire Chief Mike Beutler went over the plan for Thursday's practice drill with volunteer firefighters.

As the sun went down and the fire warmed Thomason, firefighters and the neighbors who stopped by to watch, PIFD Fire Chief Mike Beutler took a moment to talk about serving with the department.

"We're always looking for volunteers," Beutler said. "We picked up a couple more tonight. We are strictly firefighters on the Island. I'm trying to get people involved who want to be serving the community. They don't have to be firefighters. I'm looking for people who will help with administrative type things. I want to see the fire department become the hub of the community again. That's what I grew up with. I don't want us to be that building with closed doors that they drive by and know nothing about. The firefighters we have now are really starting to take ownership in things and are creating a family. It's fun to watch."


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