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Crews pounce on latest wildfire; risk remains high

Another fast-moving grass and brush fire in the Spokane area Tuesday underscored the reality of late August: Fire season is here.

Firefighters from District 10 and adjoining fire agencies stopped a noon grass and wheat fire just outside a farm on Flint Road near Airway Heights.

The fire got into a corral area behind a large barn and lapped at a stand of wheat before firefighters got it under control.

Spokane firefighters on Monday afternoon fought a small but stubborn fire on the steep north bank of the Spokane River just west of the Maple Street Bridge.

Winds were gusting when both fires broke out.

Steve Van Horn, forecaster for the National Weather Service, said a pair of weather systems could heighten fire risk through early next week.

One system tonight and Thursday could bring a chance of lightning to the mountain areas of the region, particularly in southeast Washington. Spokane and Coeur d’Alene have a 20 percent chance of a thunderstorm from that system.

Another system early next week could kick up winds again.

Relative humidity has been bone dry during the warm afternoons. The latest soaking rainstorm in Spokane came July 12 and 13. Grass, brush and trees are dry enough now to allow fire to spread easily, Van Horn said.

Highs for the rest of the week will be near 90 in Spokane, dropping to the mid-80s over the weekend.

Across the region, firefighters were getting control of a 450-acre fire in Tumwater Canyon near Leavenworth, Wash.

Also burning were a 2,000-acre fire east of Missoula and a 1,000-acre fire near Madras, Ore., that fire officials said was contained Tuesday night.

Spokane firefighters on Monday were part of a statewide team that attacked a fire in Douglas County.

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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.