At least 2 dead, 185 structures lost in Washington wildfires, officials say

ByMitchell McCluskey, Rebekah Riess and Sara Smart, CNN, CNNWire
Monday, August 21, 2023
2 dead, 185 structures lost in Washington wildfires: officials
At least two people are dead from the Washington wildfires. The Oregon Road Fire and the Gray Fire have each burned more than 10,000 acres.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. -- Two wildfires in Spokane County, Washington have burned more than 20,000 acres and left at least two people dead, officials say.

As of Sunday night, the Oregon Road Fire and the Gray Fire had each burned more than 10,000 acres, according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Both fires have been burning since Friday and are at 10% containment. Portions of both areas remain under evacuation orders and alerts, CNN reported.

One person died as a result of the Oregon Road Fire in Spokane County, sheriff's spokesman Mark Gregory said Sunday night. Another death was reported in the nearby Gray Fire on Saturday.

The Gray Fire is burning near the area of Medical Lake and Four Lakes. The department says it "does not appear there will be more fire growth" in those areas, though it warned hazards within the burned areas remain.

"Problematic weather" on Saturday hindered firefighting efforts for the Gray Fire, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources said.

The fire caused two medical facilities to shelter in place, and some residents were asked to evacuate.

The blaze damaged at least 185 structures and resulted in power outages in parts of Medical Lake, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

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The Gray Fire was initially reported in the neighborhood of Lakeland Village, southwest of Medical Lake Friday afternoon, the county fire district said. Authorities activated aircraft to respond to the fire, the fire district noted.

Spokane County declared a state of emergency by Saturday afternoon, the Department of Natural Resources said.

There are 390 fire personnel working on the Oregon Road Fire, the department said Sunday. The cause remains under investigation.

"We're looking at almost 8,300 acres of fire involved. We've had numerous structures lost," said Spokane County Fire Chief Bill Neckels.

Officials urged residents to honor evacuation orders, noting not doing so could hinder the emergency response.

Two nearby state-operated medical facilities, Eastern State Hospital and Lakeland Village Residential Habilitation Center, were asked to shelter in place, Norah West, assistant director of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, told CNN.

"This is an emerging situation and we are working to confirm details on the ground," West added.

Medical Lake is about 15 miles southwest of Spokane.

As of August 20, more than 93 wildfires are ongoing nationwide, having burned more than a half million acres in at least 14 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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