Terrain Hampers Firefighting Efforts South of Spokane

Aug 23, 2016

Eastern Washington Fires still burning as of Tuesday, August 23.

Officials say the fire burning south of Spokane near the town of Spangle has been a challenge to fight because of the terrain. Approximately 550 firefighters on the "Yale Road Fire" are dealing with tough country.
“Actually some difficult draws and ravines and cliff areas and terrain that is difficult to access with machinery, so it’s all got to be done by hand,” says Fire Information Officer Jeff Sevigny.

Evacuations were ordered Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. for a community threatened by the Yale Road fire, part of the Spokane Complex started on Sunday.

The Yale fire is creeping north by northeast. More residents on the Palouse directly south of Spokane Valley were told this morning to evacuate. This evacuation area is bordered by East Elder Road on the south, South Jackson on the east, South Valley Chapel on the west, and East Washington on the north. (See map for details as of 8 a.m. Aug. 23)
The Yale Road Fire has burned approximately 3500 acres and taken 10 residences.
The other half of what's called the "Spokane Complex" is contained within 250 acres along Wellesley, northeast of Downtown Spokane.
Calmer weather and cooler temperature helps the firefighters, however it adds to the smoke hovering over more populated areas. Residents woke to only a three-mile visibility. That haze has also degraded air quality to unhealthful measures. Hayden, Idaho's air quality monitor was the one in the region to report fewer pollutants and a "Good" index rating.

Air quality rated "Unhealthful" for much of the city at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Once the winds died down on Monday, the crews took stock of the scope of the fire activity. City of Spokane assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said his crews were stretched between the two sites.
“It was probably one of the most busiest 12 hour periods in Spokane fires history, with the exception maybe of Firestorm," Schaeffer said. "this is definitely a record set for the number of crews and number of incidents in that 12 hour period.”
The Spokane county fairgrounds has been set up as a shelter to house animals displaced by the fires.