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Crews battle fires near Liberty Lake, Cheney

July 6, 2018

Fire crews near Liberty Lake and Cheney contained a pair of fires, both several acres in size, reported within an hour of each other Thursday afternoon.

On the southeast side of Liberty Lake near Zephyr Road, several witnesses reported a large fire. At about 2 p.m., multiple engines with the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded.

Guy Gifford, spokesman for Washington Department of Natural Resources Northeast Region, said by about 3 p.m., the fire had grown to about 5 acres and was burning near Liberty Lake Regional Park’s off-road vehicle park. Firefighters were mopping up the fire, which crews dubbed the Idaho Road fire, and had a trail around it by 7 p.m.

He said two crews from DNR responded – a 10-person inmate crew from Airway Heights Corrections Center and a noninmate crew from Colville. Because of the proximity to the state’s border, the Idaho Department of Natural Resources also responded.

Two Fire Boss airplanes were deployed to scoop water from the lake and dump it on the fire. Another aircraft was deployed to communicate with ground crews.

At around 4:30 p.m., Gifford said the fire remained at about 5 acres.

“The Fire Bosses have been very effective,” he said.

Southwest of Cheney, engines from Spokane County Fire District 3 responded to Columbia Basin Highway near Hog Lake, where a fire was reported at about 1:20 p.m.

Fire Chief Cody Rohrbach said the fire was about 5 acres, burning mostly in timber. About an hour after it was reported, he said crews were able to lay down a “wet line” which helped to keep the blaze suppressed. Gifford said the fire, named the Hog Canyon fire, grew to 8 acres, but has a trail around it.

In Stevens County near Tumtum, a similar-sized fire was burning Thursday. Gifford said about 20 personnel were able to contain it within a few hours.

He said the goal was to have the fires mopped up before thunderstorms and winds hit the area, which according to the National Weather Service could cause fires to spread rapidly. A red flag warning was issued Thursday evening for Eastern Washington.

Reporter Rebecca White contributed to this report.

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