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

More evacuations called after fire breaks out along Spokane River in Post Falls

By Colin Tiernan and Alayna Shulman The Spokesman-Review

A fire on Avista Utilities land in Post Falls has spurred evacuations for people living near the Spokane River in the city. 

The Idaho Department of Land said on social media that the Parkway fire is burning within 200 feet of homes. It broke out Friday afternoon. 

It’s burning about 20 acres near Avista’s Post Falls dam on an island in the river. 

“We are aware of the fire that is currently burning south of our Post Falls Hydroelectric Facility,” a statement from Avista reads. “At this time, we do not anticipate impacts to our facilities; however, we are closely monitoring the situation and are in communication with first responders to ensure we are adequately prepared for all possibilities. Our hearts go out to the community and people who are or may be affected by this incident.”

Level 3, or immediate, evacuations have been called for people on Parkway Drive, Park Lane, Parkview Drive and surrounding areas shown in the red portion of the evacuation map, according to Kootenai County Emergency Management. Residents from Riverview Drive and Riverview Terrace north to the Spokane River are also now under immediate evacuation orders. 

An expanded evacuation zone for the Parkway fire is shown.   (Kootenai County Emergency Management )
An expanded evacuation zone for the Parkway fire is shown.  (Kootenai County Emergency Management )

Residents are asked to call 208-446-2292 with non-emergency questions.

An evacuation shelter is set up at Mullan Trail Elementary School, but no one had shown up by around 7 p.m., said Summer Warfield, disaster program manager with the Red Cross.

“People tend to not want to leave their homes,” she said. 

At least four planes, plus two or more helicopters, could be seen repeatedly dropping water on the fire as hundreds of people watched from along the river.

One of them was Jacob Lippert, who said he’s never seen a fire with this kind of response so close to the city.

Lippert said the fire is “a little bit scary,” but the response is “comforting.” He thanked the aviators for their work.

“Q’emiln is a great park, and we should preserve it as best we can,” Lippert said of the popular nearby recreation destination. “It’s important that we save it.”

With strong winds blowing, the smell of smoke began to permeate the city.

Bo Snyder said he has friends who live close to the fire.

Snyder, who lives in Liberty Lake, visits the park often. He called the fire “nerve-wracking.”

“You don’t realize it can happen until it happens,” he said.

Snyder also was thinking about the animals on the island.

“What did the animals do?” he asked.

This story is developing and will be updated.