The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

Fire Reveals Headstones


August 2, 2018

Michele Smith

No living person was injured, but the eternal slumber of several people in this cemetery was disturbed last week when fire swept through it. The cemetery is located on a hill at milepost 39, between Prescott and Waitsburg, on State Route 241. Mike Ellsworth, a volunteer firefighter with Columbia County Fire Dist. 3, said fire crews had to cut a road through and drop trees to extinguish this fire, which burned roughly 50 acres into a wheat field. The fire revealed several headstones from the 1800s. Surnames on the headstones included Hart, DeWitt, Hayes, Painter, Thompson and Zuger. They are likely people who lived and farmed in the area early on. Ellsworth said that on July 24, firefighters from Walla Walla County Fire Districts 2, 4 and 12, along with Columbia County Dist. 3, responded to a cluster of six fires, along SR 124, which started about 5 p.m. "We don't know whether they were caused by cigarettes or sparks from equipment, or what," he said. The fires have been characterized as "suspicious" in nature, said Ellsworth.

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