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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Lakeview Fire Called ‘Confined,’ 20-Person Crew Remains On Site

The 270-acre Lakeview fire was declared confined Thursday morning. Helicopters that were dropping buckets of water on the blaze on the west side of Lake Pend Oreille, stopped their work after 10 a.m. Two of the choppers were sent to fight Montana fires.

Weed Eradication Led To Wildfire

A planned burn that ignited the Elba wildfire last week was the climax of three years of plotting the eradication of the noxious weed medusa head, Cassia County's weed supervisor says. Fire engines were on hand for the project southeast of Burley, but winds kicked up and blew the flames out of control, Gordon Edwards said. The fire took most of the medusa head with it - as well as 11,320 acres of forest and range, an abandoned mining structure and a rancher's haystack. The Forest Service is investigating whether anyone is liable. Firefighting costs alone reached $480,000. Not all of the weed-plagued area the county intended to burn was blackened by the fire, but flames took out about 80 acres of an 120-acre infestation on private ground, Edwards told county commissioners Tuesday. Edwards said he was unsure how eradication of medusa head will proceed.

Public Invited To Wildfire Meeting Tonight

Facing more wildfires each year and having less money to fight them, state Department of Natural Resources officials are thinking of revamping their wildfire protection program. A private firm hired by the state last year to review the program will be in Spokane tonight to ask area residents what they think should be done.

Wildfires Char 10,000 Acres

Two wildfires were raging out of control Sunday night on the Colville Indian Reservation in north-central Washington. The fires combined to burn about 10,000 acres but were not threatening any structures, said Rick Acosta, spokesman for the firefighters. He said 200 firefighters, aided by retardant bombers and bulldozers, were fighting the fires, which started along state Highway 155 several miles east of Omak.

Wildfire Near Omak Forces Evacuations

Emergency crews and firefighters in Okanogan County battled two large fires in the Colville Indian Reservation east of here Saturday. The wildfires had grown to about 600 acres and 2,000 acres as of late Saturday night, KPQ Radio reported. The larger blaze began as three smaller fires just off State Route 155, near the town of Omak, around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, said Lareesa Whalawitsa, a dispatcher for the Colville Tribe Police. Then the three grew and joined into one fire that raced through grass and timber, she said. Whalawitsa said the fire, which was running parallel to the Okanogan River, stretched about seven to eight miles northeast of the town. "I just see a big, black cloud of smoke," Whalawitsa said. No injuries or property damage were reported. According to Whalawitsa, about 200 people were evacuated from the reservation Saturday night. Steve Bayshack, a dispatcher with the Omak police, said the Red Cross was setting up an evacuation center at Omak High School.

Valley Fire Assisted On West Plains Blaze

Valley Fire sent 39 firefighters - including six officers - and seven trucks over a four-day period to help battle the West Plains fire that burned nearly 3,000 acres earlier this month, the district said this week. Fifteen firefighters and the six officers worked throughout the first night of the fire. Others joined the fight over the next three days.

Crews To Be Sent Home From West Plains Fire

About 150 firefighters are expected to be sent home today from the West Plains wildfire that started Sunday. The Washington Department of Natural Resources brought the wildfire under control late Thursday.

Western Fires Keep Crews Busy

Air tankers, helicopters and gritty crews on the ground waged war Tuesday on a 6,000-acre blaze at Reno's outskirts. Firefighters in Utah battled 100,000 acres of flames across the west desert. Those fires and outbreaks in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming sapped the number of available air tankers, helicopters, engines, and pushed firefighters to their limits.

Arson Suspect Is 10-Year-Old

Bannock County is considering arson charges against a 10-year-old boy, after a 70-acre brush fire threatened several homes in an area east of Pocatello on Monday. Sheriff's detective Toni Vollmer said investigation into the cause of the fire continues, but the boy has emerged as the lead suspect. Vollmer said her department also is looking into the possibility that Monday's fire may be connected to a smaller brush fire in the same area on July 26.

Dust Halts Traffic Again On U.S. 20

Dust clouds producing zero visibility caused the closure of U.S. Highway 20 west of Idaho Falls for two hours Thursday night, and highway officials say motorists can expect more of the same. A nearby fire stripped vegetation from 20,000 acres of land at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, the biggest range fire at the facility in more than 10 years.

Fire Burns Two Acres Near Killarney Lake

A blaze ate through nearly two acres of grass, brush and timber after a fire started near Killarney Lake Thursday. Twenty eight firefighters from the Idaho Department of Lands battled the blaze that started about a halfmile from state Highway 3, said Mark Vory, fire dispatcher. The fire started at about 2 p.m. and firefighters expected the fire to be under control before sundown. A helicopter was brought in to watch over the blaze and dump water onto it from the air, Vory said. No homes or other structures were threatened. Investigators are still looking into what started the fire.

Fire Chars Acreage Near Liberty Lake

Fire raced through dry weeds and timber Thursday morning, blackening about 30 acres near Liberty Lake. The fire appears to have been sparked by a welder working on a drilling rig about 10 a.m. on top of a ridge west of the 2600 block of Molter Road, said Dan Blystone, Fire District 8 division chief. Fanned by a light wind, flames zig-zagged their way south to Quinimose Road. Firefighters intended to use the gravel road as a natural fire break, but the wind shifted direction and the fire raced back northeast, said Gary Frey, Fire District 8 division chief.

Weather Becomes Firefighters’ Ally

Steady drizzle helped crews defeat two fires in the Sierra Nevada on Sunday, and firefighters also declared victory over a 14,400-acre fire in northern Nevada. Thanks to the wet weather, a fire in the Sierra near Coleville, Calif., was contained at 670 acres with control expected by tonight.

Bees, Wasps Bug Crews Fighting Fire

Bees and wasps pestered crews battling a 400-acre wildfire in Southern California on Saturday as firefighters gained ground on a separate 1,100-acre blaze. The 400-acre fire forced the evacuation of about 200 people from 90 recreational cabins in Angeles National Forest, said Forest Service spokeswoman Patti Krueger.

Juniper Blaze Won’t Inflame Experts’ Anger

If you're too cheap to buy charcoal for your summer campouts, you'll find plenty of it in the Juniper Dunes Wilderness Area northeast of Pasco. A human-caused fire went wild about a mile outside the wilderness Saturday. Winds fanned the blaze directly into the roadless public land. By the time the smoke subsided, flames had rampaged over 8,500 acres in 11 hours. The charred area encompassed about 6,000 acres of the 7,140-acre wilderness.

Fire Ravages Southern California

Firefighters spent a second day in scorching heat Sunday battling wildfires that destroyed 30 buildings and burned more than 7,000 acres of Southern California brush and forestland. Several of the most destructive blazes were contained by early morning, but at least two others burned out of control in the area's vast national forests.

Spokane Firefighters Help Clean Up Wildfire

About 30 firefighters from Spokane County on Sunday helped clean up a wildfire that ate up more than 12,000 acres in Central Washington. The Spokane firefighters were called in by the state Emergency Management Division about 12:25 a.m. Sunday. Firefighters from Benton, Chelan, King, Pierce and Kitsap counties were also summoned to help fire departments in Yakima County. The fires started about 1:40 p.m. Saturday about 15 miles southeast of Yakima. They chewed through grass about 18 inches high and sagebrush, over hilly terrain, but didn't threaten any homes. One person was injured - a firefighter who suffered smoke inhalation. More than 300 firefighters and 70 pieces of equipment tackled the blazes, which burned west of Konnowac Pass Road and on state Bureau of Land Management terrain south of Elephant Mountain. The fires were brought under control about 6 a.m. Sunday. "The threat was it was going to be a very large fire," said Lt. Nathan Raby of the Kennewick Fire Department. The mobilization was the first since the wildfires near Chelan in 1994. The state Fire Services Mobilization Plan is an agreement between state government and local firefighting agencies to help battle large fires that are beyond a local jurisdiction's capabilities. Spokane firefighters arrived at the fire about 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Two strike teams and 10 engines from county districts helped mop up the fire before returning home Sunday evening.