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

Fast-moving fire spurs immediate evacuations west of Eagle Ridge; shelter opening at Cheney High School

A fast-moving fire spurred immediate evacuations and had burned at least 200 acres by Monday evening southwest of Spokane.

No structures were reported lost as of 5:30 p.m., according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

A Level 3 emergency alert from Spokane Fire District 3 said residents living along Marshall Road from Cheney-Spokane Road and north to 44th needed to leave right away “due to the life-threatening conditions in your area.” The post said people should monitor their phones and social media for updates.

The Red Cross set up an evacuation center at Cheney High School at 460 N. Sixth St.

A plume of smoke was easily visible from downtown Spokane as flames erupted in the trees before 2 p.m.

Dozens of firefighters, along with a half-dozen aircraft, were dropping water on the fire for much of the afternoon.

“Sure love to hear those airplanes,” said Ray Williams, who watched the fire from his car parked on Cheney-Spokane Road early Monday afternoon with his wife, Shirley Williams.

They weren’t too worried about their house up the hill.

“There was just a very little bit of smoke and then, ‘Boom!’ ” Shirley Williams said, gesturing to the growing plume.

A group of locals gathered at Windsor Baptist Church, just outside of the evacuation zone. Not long after the church opened its doors to get people out of the heat, neighbors began showing up with coolers of water.

Beverly Reach pulled into the parking lot at about 3:30 p.m. with her dog and neighbors in tow.

The neighbors were alerted to the fire when police officers showed up at their house and told them to evacuate. Next thing they did was call Reach.

“Oh, it was just such black smoke,” she said of her first view of the blaze.

As she spoke, another ominous plume appeared in her truck’s rearview mirror.

The Doberman family evacuated from their house with their three cats, three dogs, 10 children and grandparents who were visiting from Italy.

They caravanned to the Windsor Elementary School parking lot, where they watched the cloud of smoke grow and anxiously hoped their home would be spared.

“We got our passports and we just left,” said Anna Doberman, 20. “It was so much smaller. It has accumulated so much.”

After years of frequent military moves, Doberman’s dad recently retired, and the family is setting down roots.

The family anxiously waited for hours in the elementary school parking lot before it became clear their home was likely safe as winds shifted to the east.

The area from South Dorset Road down to South Cheney-Spokane Road was under and immediate evacuation notice as of 6 p.m. to West 47th Avenue on the east and up past Sherman Road on the west.