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Windy Sunday kept South Whidbey fire district busy

This weekend's windstorm kept local firefighters and emergency crews busy.

Between Friday night and the early hours Monday morning, Fire District 3 responded to 22 calls.

The wind led to two marine rescues, including one capsized boat. A small aluminum boat flipped over near Possession Point during the blustery afternoon.

The boater was in the water for about five minutes until a nearby fishing trawler picked him up him and took him to the Clinton Ferry Terminal, where he was evaluated by emergency responders. Fire district officials said he was OK and did not have hypothermia, despite a long boat ride to Clinton because of the weather.

"He was on the boat for about an hour and a half trying to get in because of the winds," said Deputy Chief Jon Beck.

Another marine rescue involved checking on a boat that was stranded.

Beck said something was sucked up into the boat's jet drive, possibly sand or other debris, which caused the motor to overheat. The vessel anchored just off shore to wait until the wind died down. Other than a little sea sickness from the waves, the passengers were OK.

"A lot of boaters got caught by surprise by the wind," Beck said.

High-wind speeds knocked down four trees that required a response from emergency crews on South Whidbey.

Two of the downed trees were tangled with power lines, though only one required power to be shut off by Puget Sound Energy.

The average wind speed on Whidbey Island was 13.6 mph on Sunday, and the average gust speed was recorded at 19.9 mph, according to www.whidbeyweather.com.

Beck said residents should be thankful for the dry summer, which kept most of the trees in the ground and off roofs and roads.

"If it was wet, it would be a different story," he said. "Dry ground makes the root system pretty stable."

Despite continued high winds on Monday, there were no downed trees reported to the fire district.

"If anything was going to fall, it fell on Sunday," Beck said.

High winds did force the cancellation of several ferry sailings on the Coupeville (Keystone)-Port Townsend route late Monday, however.

The windy weather will continue today, with the National Weather Service in Seattle forecasting winds from the south-southwest between 8 and 11 mph.

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