1 dead, ‘many structures lost’ as wildfire threat grows in Washington state, officials say
(CNN) — At least one person is dead in eastern Washington state as “problematic weather” hinders firefighting efforts for the growing Gray Fire, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources said in an update Saturday.
The wildfire has burned at least 9,500 acres near Medical Lake, Washington, with 0% containment, officials said. It caused two medical facilities to shelter in place, and some residents have been asked to evacuate.
The blaze has damaged at least 185 structures as of Saturday as power remains out in parts of Medical Lake, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Spokane County declared a state of emergency by Saturday afternoon, the Department of Natural Resources said.
A second wildfire in the county continues to grow, emergency officials said Saturday evening. Known as the Oregon Road Fire, its cause remains under investigation and has yet to be contained.
“We’re looking at almost 8,300 acres of fire involved. We’ve had numerous structures lost,” said Spokane County Fire Chief Bill Neckels.
Evacuation orders have been placed for residents living in Medical Lake and the area south of the city, according to Spokane County Fire District 10.
Officials urged residents to honor Level 3 (Go Now) evacuations, saying that “not doing so is hindering response.”
The Gray Fire was initially reported in the neighborhood of Lakeland Village, southwest of Medical Lake Friday afternoon, the county fire district said.
Authorities have activated aircraft to respond to the fire, the fire district noted.
Two nearby state-operated medical facilities, Eastern State Hospital and Lakeland Village Residential Habilitation Center, are currently sheltering 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 18, more than 90 wildfires are ongoing nationwide, having burned more than a half million acres in 14 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.