July 12, 2008

Crews Battle Stevens-Ferry Border Blaze

By Jim Camden, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.

Jul. 12--Crews from the state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service continued to battle a 600-acre fire on the border of Stevens and Ferry counties Friday afternoon.

Rich Anderson, emergency management coordinator for the Stevens County Sheriff's Office, said the Barstow fire also sparked a secondary fire of about 40 acres. At least two homes were lost to the fire, he said, but there were no injuries reported.

About 60 firefighters were battling the blaze early Friday, with more expected later in the day.

Downed trees and power lines, and other wind-related incidents, sparked 30 to 40 fires in Stevens County and consumed five buildings, including the two in the Barstow fire, Anderson said.

Stevens County dispatchers handled an estimated 164 calls Thursday night, he added. A quiet night usually generates 50 or fewer calls, while a busy night gets about 100, he said.

Stevens County officials declared a disaster at 9 p.m. Thursday, and state officials added the county to a disaster declaration Friday.

As of Friday afternoon, a fire near Kamloops campground and Twin Bridges was at 150 acres; a 50-acre blaze burned near the Whispering Pines Campground and a fire in the Doyle Creek area near Barstow was at 100 acres, according to a news release.

In north Spokane County, a fire destroyed a barn and several tons of alfalfa hay. The fire, near Division Street southeast of Deer Park, was "the fastest burning barn I've ever seen in my 40-year career," said Pat Humphries, of Spokane County Fire District 4.

That fire, too, was sparked by a downed power line across the road. The fire ignited the barn. The barn fire sparked a separate blaze in a stand of trees, "but we got it in time," Humphries said.

In Okanogan County, a 1,500-acre fire 12 miles east of Tonasket was 40 percent contained. An evacuation notice for the Marly Road area was reduced to Level 1 about 11 a.m. Friday.

"They should have it all cleaned up and done by Monday or Tuesday," a dispatcher said.


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