Fireworks are believed to have caused a wildfire that forced officials to close part of Northwest Boulevard on Sunday and threatened at least one home.
The fire, reported about 5:30 p.m. in the 3900 block of West Northwest Boulevard on the city’s west side, charred about five acres before being brought under control by Spokane firefighters, authorities said. Several homeowners in the area had grabbed garden hoses as the flames spread rapidly across a steep hillside.
A group of teenagers or young adults was seen lighting off fireworks at an observation lookout parking area along the scenic road, which overlooks the Bowl and Pitcher area of the Spokane River. Witnesses took down the license plate number of a vehicle the youths reportedly jumped into and sped away in, Spokane police Senior Officer Frank Erhart said.
The youths will be located and questioned, he said.
Wind pushed the fire toward the home of John and Dolores Skelton, who have lived in their home at 4011 W. Northwest Blvd. for the past 31 years. The couple spent the day golfing, and Dolores Skelton was dozing when John Skelton went upstairs to get a cup of coffee.
“I saw smoke pouring this way and firefighters everywhere,” Skelton said. “I looked out the window and I saw flames shooting up 20 feet in the trees.”
Neighbors had already brought over garden hoses, and Erhart also helped soak the area behind the house. Just as it appeared the fire was headed for the Skeltons’ home, the wind shifted and pushed the fire back into the area that had already burned. Fire crews were then able to contain it.
“They took care of us. They did a great job,” Skelton said. “Everybody was working their tails off while we slept.”
Assistant Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said a crew would remain at the scene throughout the night as a precautionary move because a thunderstorm, packing winds up to 45 mph, was expected to roll through the region overnight and could rekindle the blaze.
Fire crews also responded earlier Sunday to a brush fire on Indian Trail Road near the Spokane County landfill. That blaze burned a few acres, but no homes were threatened. Fireworks are also suspected in that fire.
Kootenai County crews worked a couple small brush fires near Chilco Road and U.S. 95 and a lightning strike in Post Falls. Neither blaze threatened homes.
Department of Natural Resources crews were battling a fire on Quartzite Mountain off of Mud Lake Road east of Chewelah. Crews battled the fire all afternoon, but little information was available late Sunday.