One person has died and evacuations are being initiated as two wildfires burn in northern Washington state.
More than 20,000 acres of land have burned in Spokane County, according to the Oregon Road Fire and Gray Fire Washington Department of Natural Resources. The forest fires broke out on August 19 and have not yet been contained.
According to Spokane County, there is a three-tiered system for alerting residents to the danger of wildfires KHQ. As of Sunday, evacuation orders and Level 2, or “get ready to leave,” orders remained in effect for areas in the city of Spokane.
The Spokane Valley Fire Department has dispatched firefighters and relief workers to help with the Gray Fire blaze near Highway 195 and Thorpe Rd, and the Oregon Road fire in the rural community of Elk.
Weather hampered the department’s response on Saturday, but a statement on Sunday suggested staff were working overtime to contain the fire. Airplanes are also used to fight fires.
More than 180 buildings were damaged and power outages occurred in certain areas of Medical Lake as a result of the fires. CNN reports. The district declared a state of emergency on Saturday
The Gray Fire was first reported Friday noon near Medical Lake before spreading eastward on winds.
“Responders worked through the night making cops and headlines around the perimeter of the fire,” the Spokane Valley Fire Department said in a statement Sunday. “By moderating fire activity, crews were able to secure and hold the line overnight. Crews will continue to hold the line and work all day to hold the line.”
Bulldozers are vehicles sometimes used in firefighting to establish fire lines around a fire.
The cause of the fire has not yet been clarified, but around 400 emergency services are on duty in an emergency. Officials have warned that air quality has continued to deteriorate throughout the Spokane County area and is currently considered hazardous
Residents who have not received an evacuation order are being asked to stay indoors if possible. People with large animals are advised to bring them to the Spokane Fairgrounds, the state’s DNR Wildfire said.
“The men and women of the fire brigade worked very diligently given the scarce resources. We need the support of the public to facilitate our work,” Spokane County Sheriff’s Chief John Nowels said Saturday.