August 10, 2008 in City

Fire near Nespelem grows

By The Spokesman-Review

The Columbia River Road wildfire, just west of Nespelem, grew to more than 21,000 acres Saturday.

“It is about 15 percent contained at this point,” said Karen Ripley, spokeswoman for the Columbia River Road wildfire. “Essentially there is good containment on the southern edge of the fire, but the winds continue to push it toward the northwest.”

About 20 homes and 40 outbuildings were threatened by the fire, but none has been damaged or lost. A Level 1 Evacuation Order – meaning that residents can remain in their homes as long as they are ready to leave on short notice – was still in effect near the town of Kartar.

Saturday evening, 555 firefighters from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, state, federal and local agencies were fighting the fire.

“Today, it’s been cooler and we’ve gotten just a little bit of rain,” Ripley said, but thunderstorms continue to roll through the area. “Every time the storm cells move through, we get erratic winds blowing at 20-25 miles, so that’s been a trade-off with the rain.”

It’s not known what started the wildfire Thursday morning.

Heavy tankers and three CL 215 planes – which scoop up water and drop it on the fire – have been attacking the wildfire as well.

Ripley said no firefighters or residents had been injured.

The weather continues to be of high concern, Ripley said.

“There have just been a lot of lightning strikes – and we’re not getting a lot of rain with them,” she said. “I noticed this morning that compared to most other areas of the country we’d gotten more lightning here in the Inland Northwest than anywhere else.”

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