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Beacon Hill fire stopped, under investigation

Spokane firefighters are investigating the cause of a brush fire Monday on Beacon Hill in northeast Spokane that left five acres charred.

Four fire engines, four brush rigs, a bulldozer and other equipment were used to fight the fire that broke out about the same time that winds peaked in Spokane just after 3 p.m. Monday.

Firefighters arrived to a three-acre fire in light to medium brush and had to work quickly because of the wind gusts in the 30 to 50 mph range, said Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer.

No injuries were reported. The fire was on the hill’s south side.

“The smoke and dust, we couldn’t hardly see anything in front of us but fire,” Schaeffer said.

He planned to return to the fire scene this afternoon with investigators to look for evidence of a cause.

The area has been used by transients for camping, he said.

Schaeffer said the department has been training for wild fire control because of the region’s history of having fires burn out of control during wind storms.

“It was pretty predictable we were going to have that fire,” he said.

Beacon Hill has been the site of numerous fires over the years, including some by arson.

The hill north of Upriver Dam on the Spokane River has terrain within the city of Spokane and Fire District No. 9. Both agencies along with the state Department of Natural Resources sent equipment and firefighters.

The hill is the site of high-voltage electrical transmission lines as well as communications and utility equipment.

A story in The Spokesman-Review in 2005 indicated that DNR had responded to 137 wild fires on Beacon Hill from 1970 until then.

The hill is popular for day use, including hiking and mountain biking and is laced with numerous trails.