'No Man's Land' can leave families without help during an emergency
YAKIMA, Wash.- A fire starts in your kitchen. You call 911 and tell them what's going on.
They take down your information but no help comes.
And you watch your home burn to the ground.
That's exactly what happened to Donald Isadore's aunt because she lived in "no man’s land".
“The most hurtful part was not getting any help from anyone to help with that fire. It may have been damaged but not a total loss had we had that help,” Isadore said.
No man's land is parts of Yakima county where there's no fire protection for homes in that area.
Yakima county fire district five covers about 800 square miles from Harrah to Grandview but not every home falls under that blanket.
There's over 500 homes outside of their coverage and deputy fire chief Joel Byum said just because you call 911, doesn't mean they'll go out there.
“We're not mandated to go and the tax payers in our district pay us for a service,” he said.
Isadore's family learned this the hard way with one of their homes left in ashes.
He said they do what they can to prepare for the worst but that preparation can only go so far.
“The homes have fire extinguishers, but if the fire gets too engulfed, there's not much you can do in that situation,” Isadore said.
Now if it were a brush fire, that home might have been saved.
Byum said if a large wildfire threatens multiples homes in the area and their district, then they'll respond after they check out what's going on.
Fire district five is also required to provide emergency medical service to the entire county because of an EMS levy.
Which means they will come. Depending on what you need.
“We could be there one day for a car wreck or an air call, but the next day for a fire we won't,” Byum said
Byum said he understands that people in no man's land are at higher risk for something burning down, but there's nothing they can do.
Especially since they already cover one of the largest districts in the state. With a volunteer force that isn't at full strength
“If we have to respond to these other incidents outside our jurisdiction, the strain we're already putting on our volunteers and the lack of volunteers we have, that just increases tenfold,” Byum said.
With the fire district unable to help, Isadore hopes the Yakama Nation will fill that hole in coverage since many of them are tribal members living in no man's land.
Right now, the nation has a fire unit to fight wildland blazes but not home or structure fires.
“I’m just hoping our Yakama nation attempts to help out people out there and puts something in place. We pray this doesn't happen again, but should it, what should we do?” Isadore said.
Here's a look at all the fire districts in the lower valley to find out if you're in "No Man's Land." You can also call your local fire department to find out.