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The volcano next door

It has been three decades since Mount St. Helens blew, but the event still fascinates - and defines - Southwest Washington. Read our May 19, 1980, story here.

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Helicopters to hell

Air rescue unit battled ash and debris in desperate hunt for survivors

The cockpit of the HH-1H Huey helicopter was silent as the crew surveyed the steaming hell of ash, gases and volcanic debris below. Mike Cooney, a pararescueman with the Air Force Reserve’s elite 304th Rescue Squadron, then based in Portland, knew at once that anyone who had been down there was beyond his help.

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Working amid devastation

Young deputy helped search for survivors and victims for weeks after May 18 blast

For Grover Laseke, the eruption of Mount St. Helens wasn’t a spectacle. It was a grueling, dangerous, serious job. Grueling as a trek through ash-blasted wasteland, dangerous as a car crash, serious as a body bag: all part of his job in the days following May 18, 1980.

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Caring for the injured

Volcano victims meant surreal shift for nurse

What Sandy Vaughan found awaiting her at work at 10 p.m. defied logic. “It was a strange, strange feeling,” the Vancouver nurse said. “Whoever thought you would be taking care of a volcano victim?

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