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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Crime/Public Safety

Wildfires grow in Washington, Idaho as forecast shows some signs of relief for Spokane

July 15, 2021 Updated Thu., July 15, 2021 at 9:44 p.m.

A passing dry lightning storm last week ignited the Asotin Complex Fire in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley on July 7.  (Courtesy of Asotin County Fire District)
A passing dry lightning storm last week ignited the Asotin Complex Fire in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley on July 7. (Courtesy of Asotin County Fire District)

A red flag warning remained in place for much of Eastern Washington through Thursday as firefighters continued to manage numerous wildfires in the region, including a new one near Metaline Falls that spurred evacuations.

The National Weather Service said winds of 5 to 15 mph were expected Thursday, with gusts of 25 mph possible. The NWS said smoky air could linger in Spokane from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. Friday, but the area is expected to have southwest winds that will likely keep the smoky air away.

Without high winds expected for Saturday or Sunday, a red flag warning for the area has not been issued, the NWS said.

Here are updates on the regional fires:

Lime Lake Fire

A new fire erupted in the area of Lime Lake near Metaline Falls. As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office had told people within 1 mile of Lime Lake to prepare to evacuate because of fire danger, meaning they were under a Level 2 evacuation order.

Earlier, they said people within 5 miles of the lake needed to leave.

Few other details were available Thursday evening.

Snake River Complex

Fires that started about 20 miles south of Lewiston torched 100,270 acres and were 0% contained as of Thursday morning.

Level 2 evacuation orders, which means residents should prepare to go, were set for the Forest, Marek and Morrowtown areas, as well as Redbird Road, Waha Glen, Waha Road and nearby roads.

The fires were ignited by lightning last week. There are about 400 firefighters working to contain them.

Lick Creek (Dry Gulch Fire)

A fire near Clarkston grew to 63,533 acres and was 20% contained on Thursday evening.

Evacuations were in place in the area and were expected to hold through at least Friday.

Officials scheduled a public briefing on the fire for 7 p.m. Friday at the Asotin County Fire Station, 2377 Appleside Blvd. in Clarkston Heights.

Character Complex

A complex in the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests grew to 2,331 acres and was 0% contained as of Thursday afternoon. No structures had been lost.

The fires caused road closures at Eagle Creek Road, Montgomery Ridge Road and Bobtail Road at Prichard Creek.

Leland Complex

Fires burning in the Idaho Department of Lands Fire Protective District grew to about 1,700 acres on Thursday evening. The Sand Mountain Fire was at 1,250 acres and 0% containment, though the blaze did not threaten any structures. The other fire, Pine Creek, was 90% contained and grew to 542 acres near the Clearwater River. Some structures were threatened.

Cougar Rock Complex

Crews battled 14 active fires known as the Cougar Rock Complex, which burned 3,167 acres and was 15% contained as of Thursday evening. Officials closed Granddad Bridge on the Dworshak Reservoir and Captain’s Cabin near Elk River.

Chuweah Creek A fire threatening several Colville Tribal Agency structures in Nespelem grew to 32,290 acres and was 20% contained as of Thursday evening. Officials gave Level 1 evacuation orders to residents in Nespelem. Level 2 evacuation orders were given to people living on Owhi Flats along Cache Creek Road, as well as Buffalo Lake and McGinnis Lake. Road closures included Cache Creek Road, Buffalo Lake Road and Joe Moses Road as of Thursday evening.

Officials scheduled an update on the fire for 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Keller Community Center, which will be livestreamed on the Northeast Washington Fire Information’s Facebook.

Red Apple Fire

Firefighting crews made progress on a fire in Chelan County that grew to 11,000 acres on Thursday morning.

Ryan Rodruck, fire information officer, said only a few residents remain in the most urgent evacuation orders, but about 2,000 were being asked to be ready to leave Thursday evening.

Cedar Creek

Fires known as the Varden and Cedar Creek fires merged into a 39-acre blaze in Methow Valley at the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest on Thursday evening. The fire prompted Level 2 evacuation orders, or “get ready to leave,” for residents living south of Methow River and west of Lost River Road.

Officials closed the North Cascades Highway 20 miles west of Winthrop between Silver Star and Early Winters roads.

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