One person has died and evacuations are underway as two wildfires continue to burn in north Washington State. The Oregon Road Fire and the Gray Fire have already scorched over 20,000 acres in Spokane County, according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. The fires started on August 19 and have not been contained.
Spokane County has a three-level system to alert residents of wildfire threats, with evacuation orders and level 2 “get set to leave” orders remaining in place for some areas in the City of Spokane. The Spokane Valley Fire Department has sent firefighters and resources to assist in battling the Gray Fire near Highway 195 and Thorpe Rd, as well as the Oregon Road Fire in the rural community of Elk.
Weather conditions initially hindered the department’s response, but they have since been working tirelessly to contain the blaze. Aircraft are also being used to help combat the fires. Over 180 structures have been damaged, and power outages have been reported in Medical Lake.
The cause of the fires is still unknown at this time, but approximately 400 personnel are involved in emergency response efforts. Air quality in Spokane County has deteriorated and is currently considered hazardous. Residents who haven’t received evacuation orders are advised to stay indoors, while those with large animals are urged to bring them to the Spokane Fairgrounds.
Authorities are asking for the public’s cooperation and assistance in making their work easier. Spokane County Sheriff’s Chief John Nowels expressed gratitude for the diligent efforts of the fire department and emphasized the need for community support. The county declared a state of emergency on Saturday, reflecting the severity of the situation.
Please note that this article has been rewritten and reformatted for clarity and brevity, and certain details may have been excluded.