EAST WENATCHEE — Wildfire coordination efforts for about half the state are based out of Pangborn Memorial Airport.
“We take initial reports of fires and dispatch fire resources accordingly,” said Jim Duck, assistant center manager at the Central Washington Interagency Community Communications Center. It’s a cooperative effort of the Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Land Management, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and Mid-Columbia National Wildlife Refuge Complex (U.S. Fish and Wildlife). The wildland firefighting dispatch center covers 22 million acres across 17 counties.
“We manage the smoke jumper base in Winthrop, the rappellers in Wenatchee, the retardant ships in Moses Lake and engines and hand crews throughout the whole area,” Duck said.
During the winter, five people are on staff, mostly planning for the coming fire season. In the spring and summer, that climbs, with 15 working in the office, a mix of DNR and USFS personnel. Another 20 or so staff the expanded center ordering supplies for the large wildfire camp operations. That can mean everything from shower trailers to bee traps.
“We have quite a bit of aircraft here in the summer, too,” he said. “In the winter, not so much. We do add to the activity at the airport in summer,” he said. “We buy a lot of fuel out here and the restaurants benefit.”
Here are some of Pangborn’s other tenants:
- Rantz Air owner Randy Rantz provide flight training. He leases an office in the fueling center.
- Ridgeline Aviation owner Cass Monnin provides aircraft maintenance and repair services in a nearby hangar.
- Century Aviation
- Pangborn Cafe, in the main terminal, has been operated by Ruth Piccirillo since 2009. The cafe offers limited hours, focused primarily on the flight arrivals and departures. The concession stand also is open during the lunch hour, attracting customers from nearby businesses — including those in the Battermann Industrial Park and those in the general aviation part of the airport.
- 31 T-hangars are leased to plane owners.