Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 68° Partly Cloudy
News >  Crime/Public Safety

New 2,000-acre fire in Whitman County and 375-acre fire on Spokane Indian Reservation grow as other fires rage across Idaho and Washington

UPDATED: Thu., July 22, 2021

Level 3 evacuation is in place for the Sherwood fire on the Spokane Indian Reservation, which was first spotted on July 21, 2021.  (Jonathan Brunt)
Level 3 evacuation is in place for the Sherwood fire on the Spokane Indian Reservation, which was first spotted on July 21, 2021. (Jonathan Brunt)

A fire that started early Thursday morning in Whitman County north of Colton ballooned to approximately 2,000 acres and was still growing.

The blaze, officially titled the Steptoe Canyon Fire, is zero percent contained and has prompted Level 1 evacuations, according to a news release from the Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The fire started about 2 a.m. and was caused by lightning, according to public information officer for the fire Heather Appelhof.

The fire is burning in grass and brush, and state firefighting resources have been mobilized to fight the fire. Appelhof said 15 fire engines, five airplanes and 150 personnel are fighting the fire.

Another fire first noticed Wednesday afternoon on the Spokane Indian Reservation, the Sherwood Fire, grew to 375 acres by Thursday morning. An official size hadn’t been updated yet for the afternoon, but Guy Gifford, information officer for the fire, said that it had grown over the course of Thursday.

About 50 firefighters, four planes and three helicopters are working on the fire and more were expected to arrive Friday, Gifford said.

No structures had been reported lost as of early Thursday morning, but evacuations remain in place, including for about 10 homes under Level 3 orders to leave immediately.

The fire is burning in a forested area and is listed at zero percent contained. Gifford said crews have built a fire line around about 30% of the fire.

Chuweah Creek

A fire burning near Nespelem has stayed relatively steady since Tuesday, growing slightly but staying at about 36,000 acres and remaining at 40% containment.

Level 1 evacuation orders, which means residents need to be aware of danger in the area, stayed in place for Nespelem, Keller, Buffalo Lake, McGinnis Lake and the San Poil Valley.

Owhi Flats was also downgraded to a Level 1 evacuation, as was the east side of Owhi Lake and Cache Creek Road, according to the Colville tribe’s fire page.

Closures of Cache Creek Road and Buffalo Lake Road between Manila and Cache Creek Road remain.

Crews faced steep challenges in keeping the fire partly contained with heavy winds on Wednesday, but cooler and calmer conditions on Thursday and Friday should help with containment efforts, according to a news release from Northwest Incident Management Team 12.

Summit Trail

A fire about 17 miles west of Inchelium caused by lightning grew on Wednesday, according to the Northeast Washington Fire Information page on Facebook.

The blaze grew to about 5,942 acres as it spread eastward and northward, according to Northeast Washington Fire Information. Crews planned to prioritize scouting and constructing containment lines Thursday.

Lick Creek

Firefighters were able to hold growth of the massive Lick Creek fire near Pomeroy in southeast Washington on Wednesday, according to the Umatilla National Forest .

The fire appeared to grow to 73,528 acres on Thursday, but this was due to interior burning in unburned pockets that are filling in naturally.

Crews are continuing to mop up around the fire perimeter and patrol for hot spots with aerial reconnaissance.

A blaze nearby, known as the Green Ridge Fire, grew to 3,428 acres Thursday and was 15% contained.

About 50,000 gallons of retardant and more than 30 flight hours with four helicopters were part of Wednesday’s operations to control the fire.

Cub Creek 2 and Cedar Creek Fires

Two large fires continue to rage around the Methow Valley with little containment for either.

The Cub Creek 2 fire is estimated at 38,671 acres with 5% containment, while the Cedar Creek Fire is estimated at 18,634 acres and is 11% contained.

A California fire crew, California Incident Management Team, assumed control of the Cub Creek 2 fire on Thursday. Northwest Incident Management Team 8 continues to fight the fire in Cedar Creek.

Over 800 firefighters, eight helicopters and almost 50 engines are battling the two fires.

The fires have prompted multiple Level 3 evacuations for people living north of the Methow River and those on the gravel portion of Wolf Creek Road.

Goddard Road

The fire near Rice grew to 784 acres and stayed at 25% containment Thursday. Two structures were burned down during the initial spread of the fire last Friday.

Character Complex

In Idaho, the Character Complex Fire, which is composed of the Deceitful and Prichard fires, continues to be a challenge for firefighters, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The Deceitful Fire grew to 3,165 acres and was zero percent contained, and has proven difficult for firefighters to manage because it is in a heavily wooded and inaccessible area.

The Prichard Fire is 1,239 acres and 40% contained, with firefighters making progress completing, improving and securing fire lines.

The total size of the complex fire is 4,404 acres.

Snake River Complex

A fire about 20 miles south of Lewiston held at more than 100,000 acres on Thursday, with containment improving to 74%, according to the Idaho Department of Lands.

Level 2 evacuation orders were adjusted to Level 1 evacuations for Forest, Marek and Morrowtown residents. The Nez Perce Sheriff’s Office also continued Level 2 evacuations for Stagecoach Road, as well as residents on Redbird Road, Waha Glen, Waha Road and all spur roads.

Level 3 evacuations were adjusted back to Level 2 for Zaza and Deer Creek roads.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.