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Wind takes out trees, power

Gusts as high as 60 mph raised dust, downed lines in region

The Filos were enjoying a quiet Sunday evening, Barbara in the kitchen and Bob in front of the TV flipping between the Miss America pageant and the Seahawks game, when the pine fell.

“We heard a crack, and then a swoosh, just a swoosh,” Barbara Filo said Monday morning, punctuating the sentence with sweeps of her arms near a massive ponderosa pine that came within inches of crashing through the first-story windows of her South Hill home of 39 years.

Sunday night’s storms that swept through Eastern and Central Washington had howling winds that kicked up choking dust and downed power lines as far west as Othello, where schools canceled classes Monday. The gusts caused three trees to tumble like dominoes in the Filos’ yard along South Adams Street near High Drive, crushing a Subaru sedan owned by their neighbor.

Monday morning, a decades-old pine lay across Adams, the trunk looking as though it had been snapped like a toothpick and the campfire smell of pine filling the front yard.

“(Bob) came outside, and he said, ‘Barbara, you better come look at this!’ ” Barbara Filo said.

A tree that had provided the wood-shingled Filo residence with shade from the heat of the day appeared to be the car-smashing culprit. Chris Mount, the owner of the Subaru, bummed a ride from his girlfriend to work Monday morning. He was standing outside as the second tree fell Sunday night.

“I saw the tree halfway falling, then I ran to the back of the house and heard a big boom,” Mount said. The vehicle is insured and he’s already filed a claim, he said.

Wind gusts topped out at 60 mph around the time the pine fell just after 9 p.m. Sunday, according to figures from the National Weather Service. Visibility in downtown Spokane was reduced to less than a quarter mile, thanks to dust picked up by the high winds.

Barbara Filo said that at its peak, the storm clouded her front-stoop view of High Drive about 100 feet away.

Avista Utilities reported Monday morning more than 3,000 customers were without power, the majority of reported disruptions occurring in Othello near the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. Classes at Moses Lake and Othello school districts were canceled Monday because of the outages, according to media reports. Later Monday, the number of customers without power had dropped to several hundred.

Cooling is expected throughout the region this week after blazing conditions over the past several days. Highs throughout the week are expected to flutter in the 70s, with lows reaching the lower 40s. Today brings a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms into the overnight hours in Spokane, then partly to mostly sunny skies are expected throughout the rest of the week.

The Filos don’t own a chain saw and hoped the city would arrive to quickly clear the road.

Barbara Filo said she also hoped the city would plant some replacement trees, as the family enjoyed the shade and the view over the bluffs framed by the fallen pines. Mostly, she’s happy no one was hurt.

“It’s a small miracle,” she said.