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Looking back: Fire hero, new records, skate park

April 25, 2017 GMT

15 years ago

James Griffith didn’t plan on being a hero. But, when he arrived home to the Brooklane Apartments, he saw smoke coming over the neighbor’s fence. Even though he’d had a recent appendectomy, it didn’t slow Griffith down, he swung into action.

Griffith followed the smoke. Coming upon his neighbor’s attached storage shed, he noticed an eerie red glow coming from the adjoining wall of the storage unit and apartment.

“I started pounding on their window with my fist,” Griffith explained. “They wouldn’t answer the door. They said they thought one of their friends had come back and was playing a joke on them. I almost threw a bicycle through the window to get them to come out.”

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Eventually the residents, Central Washington University students Zach Nause and Matt Milton, did come out of their home, surprised by the fire. “We were watching TV and had no idea a fire was going on. He saved us from losing everything,” Nause said.

In between alerting his neighbors, Griffith somehow managed to get his own dry chemical fire extinguisher, a friend’s extinguisher and Nause’s, fighting the fire until the firefighters arrived on scene. Damage was slight and there were no injuries, although due to winds, the fire was difficult to put out.

Griffith explained, “I know what a fire can do. When I was 4, I burned my parents’ house to the ground because I was playing with matches. Maybe this was a way of paying some of that back.”

— April 25, 2002

20 years ago

Grand opening festivities for Ellensburg’s skatepark will include demonstrations by professional skateboarders, a free barbecue, live band music, and skateboard and in-line skating competitions with $800 in gift certificate and merchandise prizes.

The park is located at the corner of Second Avenue and North Pearl Street. Ceremonies will begin with a presentation by Mayor Pro Tem and Councilman Stan Bassett, followed by cutting a ribbon officially opening the park.

— April 25, 1997

30 years ago

The Ellensburg Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for a senior citizen boarding house on Mountain View Avenue at the undeveloped Chestnut Street right-of-way.

Hearthstone Cottage, an East Wenatchee company, plans to build a congregate care facility for senior citizens who are able to take care of themselves with little assistance.

Some 42 units are planned for the complex. Construction could start in June, said developer Glenn Fisher.

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— April 24, 1987

75 years ago

A new system through which dancers will select new records for the player will be inaugurated at the regular weekly Y.M.C.A. dance for high school and college students. Dancers will be asked to register their preferences for songs and orchestras. It is hoped one or two new records may be secured each week.

— April 24, 1942

100 years ago

Forty-four members of the Mt. Stuart club, mountaineers, made a trip to Vantage ferry on the Columbia and visited the noted painted rocks on the other side of the river. The outing was described as one of the most enjoyable ever taken by the club. Everett Platt, county commissioner, accompanied the party to show them the rocks.

— April 24, 1922

Monica Mersinger is a historic preservationist documenting Northwest history, photography and is a local history columnist for the Daily Record.