The stretch of the Columbia River along Benton County’s southern border used to be a lonely place to get in trouble.
Rescue crews had drive from the Tri-Cities, taking an hour to get into the water.
For the last month though, firefighters and sheriff’s deputies quickly rescued several people from a sinking boat, helped a stranded boater and responded to an emergency beacon.
The faster response was thanks to a used boat that Benton County Fire District 6 was able to buy from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office for $2,500.
Normally, similar boats cost about $250,000. And that’s far beyond the budget of the largely volunteer fire district with an annual budget of $900,000. “We couldn’t afford it otherwise,” said Fire Chief Rolland Watt.