Fires

Washington wildfires destroy homes, but firefighters make progress

Spokane County Fire District 9 firefighter Phil Schick gathers GPS information on a burned-out four-horse barn near Mount Baldy.

Spokane County Fire District 9 firefighter Phil Schick gathers GPS information on a burned-out four-horse barn near Mount Baldy.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review via AP)

Favorable weather conditions helped crews make progress Wednesday against a series of wildfires in Eastern Washington that have burned at least 18 homes this week.

A fire burning on the Spokane Indian Reservation was 30 percent contained. That fire covered more than 27 square miles and had destroyed at least 13 homes on the reservation, said Jamie Sijohn, a spokeswoman for the tribe.

"The devastating fire jumped the Spokane River from Lincoln County onto the Spokane reservation in three separate locations," Sijohn said.

It roared toward the town of Wellpinit, forcing the evacuation of the entire town on Sunday. But that order has since been lifted, Sijohn said.

The flames came within a mile of downtown Wellpinit on Monday, Sijohn said.

The fire caused a delay in the opening of schools in Wellpinit. School was supposed to start last Monday but now will start next Monday, officials said.

Meanwhile, a fire near the town of Davenport in Lincoln County covered 6.5 square miles, and was 20 percent contained.

Another fire south of Spokane, in the Valleyford area, was 50 percent contained. It had burned more than 10 square miles and destroyed at least five homes, officials said. Mandatory evacuations ended on that fire on Tuesday night.

Spokane County Commissioner Shelly O'Quinn, who represents the area, praised firefighters.

"During the last three days, I have had a front row seat to the coordinated effort by area firefighters and emergency management staff who have worked around the clock to knock down the devastating Spokane Complex fires," O'Quinn said.

The Valleyford fire is lumped together with a fire in north Spokane and known as the Spokane Complex. The north Spokane fire is 100 percent contained.

Also, a wildfire is burning near the town of Northport, near the Canadian border. Crews were struggling against the 600-acre fire burning in densely wooded mountains.