Fire crews made “great progress” Tuesday night on the Ford-Corkscrew fire that already destroyed 18 homes and burned more than 14,000 acres, Stevens County Fire District 1 said.
David Shell, information officer with the Southwest Area Incident Management Team 5 that took command of the fire early Wednesday, said the wind direction shifted enough to slow the spread of the blaze, which started Sunday and torched thousands of acres in just a few days.
“The weather is cooperating and we also saw a change in wind patterns, so the fire is actually blowing back on itself,” Shell said.
Crews conducted back burns to limit available fuel and used dozers to construct fire lines late Tuesday and plan to continue Wednesday. Crews hoped to connect existing fire lines to surround a large part of the blaze.
There are 800 homes endangered by the fire, according to the fire district.
The Ford-Corkscrew fire started Sunday and quickly spread causing Level 3 evacuations for almost the entire area between Springdale, Loon Lake, Tum Tum, Clayton and Ford.
Over 300 families are affected by evacuations, said the fire’s public information officer, Isabelle Hoygaard. The fire district said those evacuations likely will be in place for a few more days.
“Go now” orders remained for the town of Ford west of state Route 231 to Stephenson Road near Clayton, as well as parts of west Tumtum and between state Route 291 and 292, according to an evacuation map from the incident management team.
Loon Lake and Clayton were both in level 2 evacuations, which means residents needed to prepare to leave at a moment’s notice, the map shows. Springdale residents were told to be aware of danger in the area but did not have to leave as of Wednesday morning.
Officials kept Route 231 closed Wednesday while they continued to use ground and air resources against the blaze.
With lower temperatures, cloudy skies and lighter winds expected, Shell said the fire should burn at a more moderate level compared to the fast growth seen Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Along with the 18 homes lost, 12 minor structures were destroyed mostly in rural wooden areas near Rail Canyon Road, Hoygaard said.
The air quality in the Spokane area dropped to ‘unhealthy’ Tuesday night but by Wednesday morning some of the smoke had cleared and the are quality returned to ‘good,’ according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.
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