Methow River destroys home

By K.C. Mehaffey

Wenatchee World staff writer
Monday, June 17, 2002

MAZAMA - The shifting Methow River destroyed a two-story log home Sunday night and is threatening two other homes near here.

Okanogan County Sheriff Mike Murray said it appears that a logjam caused the river to change course, sending it in a new direction about 50 yards upstream from the house.

The 2,800-square-foot vacation home, owned by Don and Pam Fitzpatrick of Woodinville and Brad and Heather Sturgill of Ballard, was built about 20 years ago out of the flood plain. The river, which is below flood stage, had been about 100 feet away from the water and eight feet above it, the sheriff said.

"It's truly amazing what happened," he said.

Murray said the Fitzpatricks evacuated their house at 16 River Road about 8 p.m. Saturday, when they could hear the river and trees falling nearby.

The road is just off Goat Creek Road about four miles south of Mazama.

They called the sheriff's office Sunday morning, and spent the day taking everything out. Murray said he was concerned the house would stay in one piece, and could roll down the river and hit the bridge on Highway 20, about a mile downstream.

Authorities closed the highway about 6 p.m. Sunday for a short time to make sure the house's logs did not damage the two-lane road where it crosses the river.

To prevent further problems, they cabled the house to buried logs, causing it to break apart before falling in the river at about 6 p.m. Sunday, he said.

Don Fitzpatrick, whose son is part-owner of the house, said no one was ever in danger.

Fitzpatrick said he built the house about 20 years ago, and sold it to his children. A garage that was likely to fall into the river today also has a living space above it, he said. Belongings also have been removed from that building, he said.

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