A fire burning between Clayton and Loon Lake shut down Highway 395 for several hours Wednesday afternoon before reopening around 6 p.m.
The fire began in a home on Stephenson Road just off the highway shortly after 2 p.m. The home was a recently vacated rental and the owner was doing some repairs, said Stevens County Fire District 1 Fire Chief Mike Bucy.
“He was using a torch,” Bucy said. The owner waited 40 minutes to watch for signs of a fire after using the torch and when he didn’t see any he left and went to his residence next door. Shortly thereafter he smelled smoke and spotted the fire, Bucy said.
“There must have been a spark or excess heat that he didn’t notice,” he said.
One firefighter was treated on the scene for a heat issue, Bucy said.
The fire, which destroyed the home, spread to nearby grass and timber. The flames jumped the highway but was held to about three acres in size with the assistance of crews from the Department of Natural Resources, Spokane County Fire District 4 and Spokane County Fire District 9. Two small planes and a helicopter assisted with water dumps.
“It is knocked down,” said Guy Gifford of DNR. “We’re putting a trail around it as we speak.”
Gifford said he has also heard reports of an 80 acre fire burning in a wheat field and timber off Miles Creston Road north of Davenport in Lincoln County. Water tankers have been called to assist.
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