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Overnight thunderstorm sparks fire, clears air

A round of rain and thunderstorms overnight is bringing some relief from Thursday’s heat and haze, but there’s still plenty of summer left in today’s forecast.

One home in the Deer Park area was burned when lightning hit the roof, awakening the home owner. Firefighters from county District No. 4 put out the blaze.

Electrical power poles also caught fire, including one incident that put out power to about 700 Spokane customers of Avista Utilities about 4 a.m.

Nearly 1,400 customers lost power from Avista throughout the region, but most of the power was restored by later this morning.

The risk of thunderstorms is expected to diminish later today and through the weekend.

Highs of 92 in downtown Spokane, 89 in Spokane Valley and 90 in Coeur d’Alene are expected today with sunny skies and wind gusts to 21 mph.

Spokane International Airport recorded .09 inches of rain with most of it falling around 2 a.m. At Felts Field, there was .10 inches of rain. A community weather observer in Deer Park reported .24 inches of rain. Another one in Sandpoint had .22 inches.

Weather this weekend is expected to be warm and dry, but not as hot as the 95 degree high on Thursday at the airport. Highs on Saturday should be in the middle 80s across the region with temperatures dropping to the lower 80s on Sunday. Both days are expected to be sunny.

Forecasters said a low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska pushed a weak cold front across the region early this morning, bringing cleaner, cooler air off the ocean. The smoky haze in recent days was clearing this morning with the influx of Pacific air. However, the air quality index a 7 a.m. showed that fine particulates in the air were at a moderate level of 64.

A number of small lighting-caused fires were reported. Electrical power poles also caught fire, but Avista spokeswoman Debbie Simock said that dust collecting on the electrical equipment atop the poles may have been short-circuited by a combination of dust build up and rain, triggering the fires.

At 7 a.m., temperatures remained mild following a warm night. It was 66 at the Spokane airport and Coeur d’Alene, 69 in Pullman and 61 at Sandpoint and Deer Park.


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