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

Many Gray fire evacuations reduced as both sides of Interstate 90 reopened after days

Kelly Maguire walks through his neighborhood and surveys the damage of the Gray fire on Saturday in Medical Lake. Maguire said his home was saved, but not his neighbor’s.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
From staff reports

From staff reports

Many Medical Lake residents were allowed to return home Monday, and Interstate 90 west of Spokane reopened, as firefighters continued efforts to corral the Gray fire that ravaged the city and burned along both sides of the freeway Friday.

Spokane County Emergency Management said on Facebook Monday afternoon that the earlier more pressing evacuation orders had been reduced to Level 1 evacuations for the following:

  • All residents north of Gray Road on the west to Lefevre Street on the east and Fancher on the South.
  • Those from Lefevre on the west to California Street and the south end of Hallett Elementary School to Hallett Road.
  • Those on Hallett north to Campbell Street, and on Campbell east to the east end of Medical Lake Middle School and north to Lake Street.
  • Everyone north of Lake Street to the east where Lake turns into Medical Lake Four Lakes.
  • Those on Medical Lake Four Lakes to I-90.
  • South of I-90, for those east of 904, west of South Andrus Road and north of West Jensen Road.

Meanwhile, the 13-mile stretch of the interstate, from Tyler at milepost 257 to Four Lakes at milepost 270, was closed over burning and hazard trees that could fall onto the highway. The Washington state Department of Transportation said online Monday afternoon that the eastbound freeway had reopened, and shortly after that announced that westbound lanes were also open.

Some areas remains under Level 3 mandatory evacuations even as fire activity has slowed. Emergency officials are asking residents anxious to return home to wait. The fire had burned 10,014 acres as of Monday morning and more than 185 structures, including homes and outbuilding. One body has been recovered from the wildfire area.

Residents who return are often finding razed homes, smoldering rubble and hotspots on the forest floor.

The Washington state Department of Natural Resources said firefighters continue digging containment lines and are now moving inside the fire lines to try and prevent unburned areas from igniting.

There are some 400 people working on the fire, and it is 10% contained. The cause is under investigation.

The Red Cross has set up an evacuation site at Spokane Falls Community College.

A change in the weather, including high humidity and the probability of light rain Monday evening and Tuesday, has buoyed the outlook.

Oregon Road fire

The wildfire burning about 4 miles northeast of Elk in northern Spokane County has burned 10,142 acres as of Monday morning and leveled dozens of homes and outbuildings. One person has died inside the fire lines. An estimated 80 structures have burned, according to KHQ.

The blaze remains 0% contained as the number of firefighters and support crew has grown to 463, according to DNR.

A large area east and southeast of Elk remains under Level 3 evacuations.

A Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at Riverside High School.

Firefighters on Monday remained focused on protecting structures and continuing to dig and build containment lines.