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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Wildfire in west Spokane prompts Level 3 evacuation order but has ‘calmed down’

A fire near Palisades Park prompted immediate evacuation orders for nearby residents as it sent a plume of smoke into the sky visible from the heart of downtown Friday.

People were initially told to immediately evacuate within Houston Road on the north, Greenwood Road on the south, Grove Road on the west and Government Way on the East. Guy Gifford, spokesman for the Washington state Department of Natural Resources, said Friday night the immediate evacuations east of Government Way were reduced to Level 1, or “be alert.”

He said the 30-to-40-acre fire “calmed down” and was not expected to grow overnight. Gifford said 50% of the fire had a hand or bulldozer line around it. It was still 0% contained, though. Gifford said some of the line around the fire still had flames next to it, which is why containment was considered zero.

Red Cross NW tweeted that an emergency shelter was open at West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt St., in Spokane.

About 75 firefighters were working Friday to extinguish the wildfire, Gifford said. He said there were 13 aircraft working on the fire, and at least nine agencies responded.

Firefighters and six fire engines were expected to continue to fight the fire overnight into Saturday, Gifford said, while about 60 firefighters will be on hand Saturday.

Gifford said the main concern Friday with containing the fire was wind, since most of it was burning in timber near Rimrock Road about 10 minutes west of downtown.

It was reported at about 4:30 p.m. Friday near Palisades Park, according to the Northeast Washington Interagency Communications Center.

The Spokane Police Department said in a news release around 6 p.m. that Government Way was closed from Riverside Avenue to Whistalks Way because of the fire. Gifford said Government Way since reopened.

Thick black smoke and flames shooting from trees could be seen from downtown Spokane.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined .

Jacob Reed, who works in the pro shop at Indian Canyon Golf Course south of the fire, said he could see the fire from historic property. The smoke appeared to be blowing north over the hill, he said.

Dan Swain, who lives on the corner of Grove and Greenwood roads on the edge of the Level 3 evacuation area, said the fire had a lot of ground to cover before it would reach his home, so he wasn’t panicking yet. He said he was more concerned about Rimrock Drive residents.

“Obviously, it raises concern anytime there’s a fire out here … because it is very dry, as you can see,” Swain said as planes attacked the blaze overhead.

Jaime Estrada, who was also on the edge of the evacuation area, said he wasn’t too worried about the fire reaching his property. They were packing the dog, computers and chargers in the car just in case.

He said he and his two sons planned to drive around the area if roads weren’t closed and watch the planes extinguish the fire before hopefully getting an alert Friday night that it was safe to return home. He said they were possibly going to head to Kendall Yards to hang out as firefighters worked to contain the fire.

He was hopeful the airplanes were doing a good job of slowing the spread of the flames.

“We’re kind of hopeful to think it’s going to get under control and we’ll be back tonight,” Estrada said.