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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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High winds make fighting Palouse Highway fire difficult Sunday night

UPDATED: Mon., April 19, 2021

Firefighters from Spokane County Fire District 8 on Monday, April 19, 2021 inspect land during a wildfire the night before. District 8 and other agencies battled fire near the Palouse Highway and Valley Chapel Road during heavy winds and were able to prevent it from burning any structures.  (Courtesy Spokane County Fire District 8)
Firefighters from Spokane County Fire District 8 on Monday, April 19, 2021 inspect land during a wildfire the night before. District 8 and other agencies battled fire near the Palouse Highway and Valley Chapel Road during heavy winds and were able to prevent it from burning any structures. (Courtesy Spokane County Fire District 8)

Firefighters battled strong winds Sunday night as they fought to save a home from a brushfire south of Spokane.

Just after 8 p.m. Spokane County Fire District 8 was dispatched to a wildland fire at Palouse Highway and Valley Chapel Road, said Chief Lonnie Rash.

Initial estimates put the fire at 10 acres, but when crews arrived they estimated the size at 1.6 to 2 acres, Rash said.

Firefighters “encountered heavy wind conditions,” Rash said.

After some challenges in getting access to the fire, crews began working to protect a nearby home.

“Initially, there was a home threatened and they did structure protection,” Rash said.

A second alarm was issued bringing additional fire crews from District 8, the Spokane Valley Fire Department, the Spokane Fire Department and the Department of Natural Resources.

“The Palouse Highway near Valley Chapel was at zero visibility,” Rash said.

Motorists were stopping their vehicles on the road, unable to see where they were going and causing a problem for fire crews, Rash said.

“It took us a little time to negotiate that,” he added.

Despite the challenging conditions, crews were able to save the house and get the fire under control.

“They were able to quickly get the fire, at least the forward progress, stopped,” Rash said.

Department of Natural Resources and Bureau of Land Management crews remained on scene overnight to monitor the fire and were still doing clean up Monday morning. DNR is investigating the cause of the fire.

Stopping the forward progress of a fire while there are high winds can be difficult, Rash said, especially at night.

In the dark it’s difficult to assess where exactly the fire is headed, Rash said.

Firefighters must work their way around the fire all while being cognizant of where the flames are going.

“Many times it will cause spot fires in front of the main body of the fire,” Rash said, of high winds. “I think the crews did a very good job with those conditions.”

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