KECI

Logger loses equipment in fire as employee helps save residents

Equipment lost as worker saves residents

THOMPSON FALLS, Mont. - The Copper King Fire in the Thompson Falls area has now reached over 21,000 acres, and as each day passes, more people are being affected.

Mike Newton works for Weyerhauser as a logger out of Kalispell. He operates Newton Logging Inc. in the Thompson Falls area.

"I assumed if there was danger," said Newton, "then someone would have alerted the company I work for, and I would have known about it. I could have got my machines out easily if I would have known, but there were no calls whatsoever."

He says that if it weren't for his employee, Allen Bryson, some might not have made it out alive.

"Allen was fine," said Newton. "As a matter of fact, he woke up and saw the fire, and there are some summer cabins down a little ways below where we're working, and those people had not been alerted yet that the fire was over the hill from them. So he was actually the one that knocked on all their doors and woke them up."

Newton estimates the fire did around $350,000 worth of damage to his equipment -- not to mention the burnt timber throughout his property.

"When the fire got in close to structures yesterday," said Newton, "there was an awesome air show above me. There were bombers and there were helicopters. I know the fire is burning in rough terrain and hard to fight when it started, but if there had been an air show like that for a half a day, they would have put the fire out in my opinion."

Although not much of his equipment remains, Newton feels confident that he and his workers will be able to bounce back with smaller logging jobs until they work the numbers out with insurance companies.


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