September 13, 2012 in City

Wildfire risks to homes lessened

Evacuations lifted in Grand Coulee area
By The Spokesman-Review

Evacuation notices have been lifted in the Grand Coulee area, where the Barker Canyon wildfire complex destroyed three homes and nine outbuildings since it began last weekend.

Karen Ripley, spokeswoman for the Interagency Incident Management Team, said no one has been injured by the two wildfires – Barker Canyon and Leahy – that make up the Barker Canyon Complex.

Ripley said residents in the area should still be aware of the fire, as it is still active in areas, but “it’s not an immediate threat to people’s homes.”

She said she did not know the exact locations of the buildings and homes destroyed or who owns them but said they were lost in the 74,834-acre Leahy Fire, which grew about 15,000 acres from Tuesday through Wednesday.

The Barker Canyon fire also damaged two power switching stations for Grand Coulee Dam, Ripley said, but power was not interrupted.

“It had the potential for being a very serious event,” Ripley said.

State Route 174 has been reopened from the junction with State Route 17 to Grand Coulee.

Air quality has also been an issue in the area and is threatening a triathlon event scheduled for this weekend.

Race director Stefan Newbury said 300 people are scheduled to participate in Saturday’s Grand Columbian Triathlon, which at this point is moving forward as planned.

“The air quality has gotten better over the last few days,” he said, adding that participants can go to the event page at for updates.

Southeast of Grand Coulee, about 40 miles west of Spokane, an evacuation warning is still in effect for 12 homes near Creston as a result of the Apache Pass wildfire.

Washington State Patrol Officer Jeff Sevigney said crews made progress on the fire Wednesday, which was listed at 40 percent contained and covering 24,500 acres. The evacuation notices will be lifted once containment numbers are higher, Sevigney said.

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