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Evacuated residents returning to convent today

Forecasters say hot temperatures will increase fire danger

A Spokane Fire Department aerial ladder, positioned in the Convent of the Holy Names parking lot on Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, shoots water down on the fire. (Dan Pelle)
A Spokane Fire Department aerial ladder, positioned in the Convent of the Holy Names parking lot on Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, shoots water down on the fire. (Dan Pelle)

Residents evacuated from a northwest Spokane convent on Monday due to a brush fire will be allowed to return today.

About 60 people were evacuated from the Convent of the Holy Names at 2911 W. Fort George Wright Drive as the brush fire came within 100 yards of the structure.

The fire is 100 percent contained, said Brian Schaeffer, assistant chief of Spokane Fire Department.

STA buses and ambulances were used to evacuate employees and 36 nuns. Six were in wheelchairs and 10 were bed-ridden, officials said. The convent has a wing that serves sisters from around the region in need of nursing services.

Some of the nuns stayed in hotel rooms offered by Red Lion Hotels, Schaeffer said. The non-ambulatory residents stayed in a care facility.

The approximately 5-acre fire did not reach the convent, Schaeffer said. Fire crews saturated the area around it with water and a Department of Natural Resources helicopter assisted. Between 75 and 100 firefighters fought the blaze.

The fire closed area roads, including the T.J. Meenach Bridge and Downriver Drive between Pettit Drive and the bridge for a time.

The closures prompted some class cancellations at Spokane Falls Community College, but by 9 p.m. Monday, the Community Colleges of Spokane had announced that all facilities would resume normal operations today.

The National Weather Service reported that hot weather is increasing the wildfire danger in Eastern Washington, with highs predicted in the 80s and 90s and climbing to 100 by Friday. Predicted breezy conditions will combine to create a dangerous outlook for wildfires, forecasters say.


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