A brush fire partially closed U.S. Highway 2 between Pittsburgh Street and Farwell Road just north of Spokane for more than two hours Tuesday afternoon.
A large plume of smoke could be seen and flames were visible right next to the highway when the call came in shortly before 1 p.m. Department of Natural Resources spokesman Guy Gifford said several agencies responded quickly to the fire and were able to get a line around it by 2 p.m.
Firefighters reported seeing single-tree torching, and there was evidence that some flames climbed as high as 20 feet, Gifford said.
The fire was about 2 acres in size and had multiple start points, he said. The cause of the fire, which was near a residential area, is under investigation.
“It’s unusual, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it was anything criminal,” Gifford said.
Fires along roadways, especially roads lined with dry brush, are common and can be caused by anything from a lit cigarette to sparks from a blown tire, he said.
Crews from Spokane County Fire District 9 responded to the scene, assisted by DNR, Spokane County Fire District 4, the Spokane Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Gifford estimated that roughly 40 firefighters were on the scene.
Some resources have already returned from the fire for use elsewhere, and a few crews remain at the site to “mop-up,” which Gifford said he expects to be completed by this evening. It is unlikely for the brush fire to pick up again, he said.
The continued hot and dry weather has raised the fire risk in the area. In response, Spokane County announced Tuesday that they will cease grading dirt and gravel roads in the county until a significant rainfall occurs.
“A single spark from a grader blade could start a fire that destroys a home and surrounding properties,” said county spokeswoman Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter.
Homeowners should take precautions as the region moves into peak fire season and the fire danger rises, Gifford said.
“As it continues to heat up and things dry out, every fire is a concern,” he said.
This story will be updated.
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