Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 43° Partly Cloudy
News >  Spokane

Chemical fire out; evacuations end

Associated Press

GRANDVIEW, Wash. – A chemical fire that burned for nearly two days finally went out Friday, and authorities allowed hundreds of evacuated residents to return home.

State and federal authorities continued to monitor air quality in the area, said Lt. Jim Keightley, spokesman for the State Patrol.

“The fire is out. The building is gone,” Keightley said. Now, he said, the focus was on “conducting more air and soil samples to make sure there’s no residual chemicals.”

The fire broke out Wednesday afternoon in an insulated storage building at the Wilbur-Ellis Co., an agricultural chemical and fertilizer retail operation in this community of 8,500 about 40 miles southeast of Yakima.

The blaze sent up a plume of toxic smoke. Hundreds of people were evacuated when heavy fog and clouds kept the smoke close to the ground.

The insulated building, or “warming room,” was used to store fertilizers and pesticides that might freeze in cold temperatures.

Authorities lifted the evacuation order at 6 p.m. Friday for about 400 residents who live in a half-mile zone around the fire scene.

Many residents of a trailer park containing about 100 mobile homes – outside the evacuation zone – had also voluntarily evacuated because roadblocks cut off access to the park, Keightley said. They were allowed to return Friday morning.

“The city of Grandview is back to normal,” Keightley said Friday night.

The fire sent dozens of people complaining of skin irritation or respiratory problems to local hospitals.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.