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Winds, Rain Scour Region Dozens Of Power Lines Downed; Temperatures Take Tumble

Wind gusts of up to 40 mph Sunday night sent area firefighters scurrying to deal with dozens of damaged power lines and small fires.

Meanwhile, Washington Water Power crews responded to calls of power problems in Spokane, the Valley and Deer Park.

“It’s trees in lines, and we’ve got some poles down,” said Rob Strenge, a company spokesman. “We’ve got scattered outages all over the area.”

Strenge said crews probably would work all night to fix the problems. He said it wasn’t possible to count the number of customers affected because the problems were so scattered.

After a day of blue skies and light clouds, winds of 32 mph hit Spokane International Airport at 7:10 p.m. Winds peaked at 40 mph at 8:37 p.m., and the rain started just after 9 p.m.

Today, the temperature should reach only 60 degrees. There’s a 60 percent chance of showers and possible thundershowers.

“Get the coat out,” advised Milt Maas, a specialist for the National Weather Service.

Area firefighters were kept busy for hours after the heavy winds hit.

Valley Fire District handled about 12 calls of arcing power lines - when trees were blown into lines, sending sparks into the air.

At the corner of Sargent and Shannon, Valley firefighters kept an eye on a sparking line until the rain pelted heavily, about 9:30 p.m.

“With the rain, there’s really no chance the tree’s going to catch on fire,” firefighter Patrick Hinds said. “There’s a good one,” he added, as the tree bent down into the top line, sending out a shower of sparks that quickly disappeared.

Firefighters also responded a fire about 8:15 p.m. in the southeast corner of the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds.

Battalion Chief Will Jones watched sparks fly off a pile of sawdust that caught fire. The sparks briefly spread to grass, but firefighters put out the fire.

“It doesn’t flame,” Jones said. “It just kind of smolders and blows sparks everywhere. It looks pretty spectacular, but it’s nothing serious.”

City of Spokane firefighters went out on 11 calls of arcing lines and downed power lines between 8:16 and 8:59 p.m.

“There’s nothing super-serious yet,” a city dispatcher said.

At the Nine Mile Store in Nine Mile Falls, a tree blew into a power line at 9:05 p.m. The tree, the line and the pole all fell into the street, blocking the southbound lines of state Highway 291 for almost an hour.

A slash pile spread out of control near 7000 S. Linke Road, and a tree fell into a power line near Geiger and Grove roads, said Bob Stose, dispatcher at Fire District 8.

Neither was serious.

“It’s been pretty busy,” Stose said.

, DataTimes



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