Evacuations have been ordered in southern Stevens County as a wildfire that started early Wednesday evening rapidly grew to more than 550 acres.
Residents living on Highway 231 between Highway 291 and Corkscrew Canyon Road should evacuate immediately, said Guy Gifford of the Department of Natural Resources. The Red Cross has opened a shelter to assist residents at Lakeside High School, 5909 Highway 291.
Those living on Highway 291 between Corkscrew Canyon and Highway 231 should be prepared to evacuate with an hour’s notice, Gifford said, as should residents on Corkscrew Canyon Road.
Debbie Benton-Baker was told she should leave her home of 20 years on Corkscrew Canyon Road but she was still at her home at 8 p.m. “It’s still about two miles away,” she said. “We’ve got sprinklers up everywhere. We’ve got a sprinkler on top of the house.”
Benton-Baker said she has a wide defensible space around her home. Her van was packed and ready to leave, though, just in case. “If it gets bad we’ll leave,” she said. “It’s kind of scary.”
The fire near the intersection of Highways 231 and 291 south of Ford was about 30 acres in the early evening Wednesday. By 9 p.m. the estimated size was between 550 and 600 acres and the plume of smoke had spread to Spokane.
There are 100 firefighters from multiple fire districts and DNR on scene as well as seven aircraft dumping water and fire retardant, Gifford said.
The Washington State Patrol has closed Highway 231 between Corkscrew Canyon Road and Highway 291. Corkscrew Canyon Road is also closed between the two highways.