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Firefighters hold growth of Andrus Fire at 300 acres overnight; FEMA authorizes use of federal funds to help fight fire

UPDATED: Tue., July 6, 2021

A firefighter keeps watch on the fire in the late afternoon Monday.  (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
A firefighter keeps watch on the fire in the late afternoon Monday. (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Firefighters at the blaze near Cheney, now called the Andrus Fire, held growth at 300 acres overnight, but the fire is still 0% contained as of Tuesday morning.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized the use of federal funds to help the state of Washington with firefighting costs, determining that the Andrus fire was threatening homes in and around Cheney, according to a FEMA press release.

The state of Washington applied and was approved for a Fire Management Assistance Grant late Monday night, which now frees federal funding for up to 75% of Washington’s Andrus firefighting costs. An additional $778,778 will be made available for post-fire mitigation and clean-up costs, according to a FEMA press release.

This is the first federal grant of its kind to help fight Washington wildfires in 2021, signaling the start of a likely intense, and expensive, fire season.

Evacuation orders were updated Tuesday morning to a region that spanned from Hallett Road to the north to Andrus Road to the south. The western boundary of the map included Fruitvale road and Taylor road. To the east, the area reached Grove Road before cutting back west toward Andrus Road.

Thomas Mallon Road remains closed between Melville Road and Andrus Road, and Soda Road is still closed North of Andrus Road, according to Washington State Patrol Trooper Jeff Sevigney.

Because the fire has not been contained and due to potential weather concerns, the Level 3, 2 and 1 evacuation orders and road closures updated this morning are expected to hold through most of the day.

Evacuation orders will be re-evaluated Tuesday afternoon, according to Spokane County Emergency Management.

Residents of some 200 homes are still under orders to leave immediately.

As of Tuesday morning, there have been no injuries or structures lost, according to Sevigney.

Local firefighters who worked 20 hours yesterday and in the early morning to keep the fire from growing were relieved this morning by firefighters from around the state, according to Spokane County District 8 firefighters.

There are approximately 150 firefighters from state and local crews on the ground and air support is scheduled to continue throughout the day, according to Sevigney.

Five single-engine fire boss planes, two scooper planes and multiple helicopters were working to contain the fire on Monday.

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.

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