Residents of some 200 homes were ordered to leave immediately as fire crews, including air support, battled a growing wildfire north of Cheney and east of Four Lakes on Monday.
Level 3 evacuation notices were issued for about 50 homes between Melville, Spotted, Andrus and Thomas Mallen roads at 4 p.m. due to “life threatening conditions,” according to a Twitter post from Spokane Regional Emergency Communications.
At around 5:30 p.m. the evacuation area was expanded to a region that spanned from Hallett Road to the north to Andrus Road to the south. The western boundary of the revised map included Hayford and Westbow roads. To the east, the area reached Assembly Road before cutting back west toward Andrus Road.
Sevigney indicated the fire had grown to between 250 and 300 acres as of 5:10 p.m. Just four hours earlier, he had reported that the fire spanned approximately 40 acres.
The area lies east of Interstate 90’s Medical Lake exit.
There were no official reports of structures being damaged or lost as of press time, but one witness, Zach Jeffers, of Cheney, said he had heard from neighbors that a home was engulfed by flames while he was helping friends evacuate with horses from their home.
Other residents in the way of the fire said they put sprinklers on their roof in a last-ditch effort to protect their homes when they evacuated.
A shelter for evacuees was set up in the Medical Lake High School Cafeteria, 200 E. Barker Road, and the Red Cross was assisting those in need.
Evacuated residents with animals or livestock were allowed to seek refuge at the Spokane County Fairgrounds.
Spokane County sheriff’s deputies notified residents of the evacuation order, and people could be seen leaving the area just before 3 p.m.
Jerry Harvey, a resident of Cheney, said his wife called him in the morning in a panic to tell him about the fire.
“We might pack up some canned food and water and get out of here,” Harvey said. “We just have to be safe.”
Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste authorized state mobilization to boost firefighting resources for the fire.
According to that order, “The fire is threatening infrastructure, crops, 137 residences and Interstate 90.”
Sevigney noted at around 6 p.m. that five single-engine fire boss planes, two scooper planes and multiple helicopters were working to contain the fire.
The blaze was initially reported as a brush fire located near 12908 S. Andrus Road.
No cause of the fire had been determined or released as of press time.
Air quality in Spokane was downgraded from the “good” category to “moderate” as of 5:35 p.m., according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.
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