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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

300 firefighters battle major wildfires on the west side of the Columbia Basin

June 29, 2017 Updated Thu., June 29, 2017 at 10:10 p.m.

The first major wildfires of the season had consumed nearly 56,000 acres by Thursday, however evacuation notices had been downgraded. (DNR)
The first major wildfires of the season had consumed nearly 56,000 acres by Thursday, however evacuation notices had been downgraded. (DNR)

Firefighters were digging lines amid good weather conditions to begin corralling the first major wildfires of the season.

As of Thursday afternoon, about 56,000 acres had burned. But evacuation notifications had been downgraded for those living closest to the fire lines south and east of Wenatchee.

Wildfire smoke that invaded the Spokane area on Wednesday dispersed Thursday morning when the wind shifted.

Calmer conditions were reported in the vicinity of the fires on Thursday following strong wind gusts that drove the flames on Wednesday.

Fire officials said the three fire starts on Monday were triggered by lightning.

Crews were using fire lines on the south side of the fire to prevent it from advancing toward the city of Quincy.

Firefighters also were trying to protect habitat for the threatened sage grouse.

By Thursday morning, the Sutherland Canyon Fire merged with the smaller Straight Hollow Fire.

On the west side of the Columbia River, the Spartan fire grew to 9,000 acres and was 60 percent contained on Thursday morning. Fifty crew members were on the scene.

The fires burned mainly grass and brush.

Winds were variable and changing direction on Thursday morning, but still gusting to 21 mph out of the northeast in Douglas County to the north. The gusts eased by late morning and winds died to below 10 mph but then increased in the afternoon. Highs were in the middle 80s.

Wenatchee had 7 mph winds from the west with relative humidity near 40 percent by late morning Thursday.

The National Weather Service lifted a red flag warning in the area Wednesday evening.

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