On June 26 at 9:58 p.m. we received a call that the Southfork Cafe in Stites was on fire. I arrived a few minutes later and found the large building nearly totally engulfed. Flames were already through the roof and we had neighboring wood buildings about 12 feet away on the north, 18 feet away on the south and slightly farther away on the east (alley) side. Because of the size and intensity of the fire and the potential for spreading to additional buildings we immediately called for backup from other area fire departments. Shortly we had trucks and personnel from Kooskia, Kamiah, Harpster, BPC, Ridge Runners and Avista Utilities. As things turned out we were very lucky. The wind was fairly calm so we had no spread from embers, and we were able to concentrate first on protecting the adjacent structures and then on controlling the main fire. We did not have to use the services of most of the other agencies, but knowing we had the backup gave us great peace of mind. Had there been more fire spread or more wind we could have been quickly overwhelmed without them.
I would like to give a huge thank you to all the above fire organizations as well as the many members of the public who responded to give us a hand in some way. Some distributed water and other drinks, some stood by with garden hoses in adjacent yards, others drug and/or rolled hoses, some even manned hoses until more firemen arrived. I want also to thank the Idaho County and tribal deputies who helped us with traffic and crowd control. It is so gratifying to see all the cooperation and working together that occurs when there is an emergency situation like this. We live among a great bunch of people!
I would also like to encourage anyone of any age or ability to get involved with your local fire department. Kooskia and Stites are terribly undermanned and really need your help. Most other departments are also in need. What if you had a fire tonight and no one came? We need you.
Chief Stites Fire Department