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Wildfires timeline

Sat., July 12, 2008

Thursday bordered on chaotic for firefighters and law enforcement officers in Spokane County. Numerous fires were reported, and winds gusts reached more than 40 mph.

“Last night was a blur,” said Tom Mattern, deputy director of Spokane County emergency management.

Below is a list of some significant events related to Thursday’s emergency response efforts in Spokane County. Times that are estimated are marked with asterisks.

6:20 a.m.: National Weather Service issues red flag warning for potential fire danger effective between noon and 8 p.m.

1 p.m.*: Sustained winds between 20 and 24 mph with gusts in the mid- to upper 30s begin to be recorded at Felts Field.

1:03 p.m. Spokane firefighters sent to a fire at the Ugly Duck, 1725 W. Sinto Ave. Fire soon turns into three-alarm blaze. Over the next few hours the title of area commander, the fire leader overseeing the use of fire resources in Spokane County, switches from Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams to Spokane Valley Fire Chief Mike Thompson to Spokane Battalion Chief Joel Fielder to Spokane Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer as administrators turn to focus on fires in their jurisdictions.

3:23 p.m.: First 911 call received on the fire that eventually grew to 1,200 acres near Valley View Drive and Eastern Road.

3:25 p.m.: Firefighters from Spokane County Fire District 8 and Spokane Valley Fire Department dispatched to Valley View fire, which quickly spread east. In the next few hours, several area fire departments were dispatched to the scene.

4:37 p.m.: 44 mph wind gust measured at Felts Field.

5:25 p.m.: First evacuations ordered for Valley View fire, for residents along Park Lane. Evacuation boundaries grow and shrink several times during the evening.

5:30 p.m.*: American Red Cross opens information center at North Central High School for Ugly Duck fire. Later, the school becomes a shelter. One person displaced by the Spokane Valley fire stays overnight.

5:50 p.m.: Fire crews dispatched to 16th and Dishman-Mica for a second fire that may have started from embers created by the first Valley View blaze.

7 p.m.: Officials activate Emergency Alert System, which spreads word over public airwaves about evacuation and directs evacuees to Valley Mission Park.

7 p.m.*: Emergency Operations Center, which coordinates the gathering of extra resources, opens.

7 p.m.*: American Red Cross opens shelter at University High School; 136 people stay overnight.

9 p.m.*: Last major gusts of wind blow through Felts Field.

9 p.m.*: Gov. Chris Gregoire arrives at fire command post at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 3606 S. Schafer Road. She meets in the church lobby with officials, including Spokane Valley Mayor Rich Munson, Spokane County Commission Chairwoman Bonnie Mager, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

9:30 p.m.*: Knezovich declares a state of emergency.

9:31 p.m.: Munson declares state of emergency.

9:38 p.m.: At Redeemer Lutheran, Mager and county Commissioner Todd Mielke, reached by phone, vote to declare a state of emergency. Gregoire declares a state of emergency in Spokane County.

SOURCES: Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane Police Department, Spokane Fire Department, National Weather Service, American Red Cross Inland Northwest Chapter

Compiled by Jonathan Brunt


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