High Drive fire may have been human caused

High Drive fire may have been human caused

SPOKANE, Wash. - Less than 24 hours ago fire crews were battling flames creeping toward homes on Spokane's South Hill. Now it's known the fire was not an act of nature.

Right now fire officials say there's no indication that this fire was caused any other way. There was no lightning Monday, there were no downed power lines in the area and the lack of a natural cause points the finger at a human cause.

What looked to be a small brush fire quickly burned up hill toward homes in the 100 block of High Drive Monday afternoon, sending neighbors to their roofs with hoses and fire crews calling in the fire boss aircraft.

Structure protection was the main concern and firefighters were able to get the fire under control in about three hours. Officials say it was a quick response with great coordination that kept this fire in check.

"Yeah, definitely a good day," said Spokane Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Sabo.

The Department of Natural Resources had a man working in the burned out area Tuesday morning felling trees to keep mop up crews safe, and fire crews hope to have the area mopped up by the end of the day Tuesday. It covers about seven acres and their main concerns are snags, trees falling over so they're asking people to stay out of the area at least until Wednesday morning.

"It's not to say there won't be occasional smokes that pop up but we hope to have the majority of them taken care of today," Sabo said.

Popular hiking and biking trails cross through the burned area and fire officials say this fire looks to be human caused. They even responded to a stump fire Tuesday morning suspiciously outside Monday's fire line.

"This one we really don't have any witnesses and there's really no obvious signs on the ground of what may have occurred," Sabo said.

Police say they removed several transients who were camped in the area three days ago, issuing them a trespass warning, but there's no word if they tried to come back. Friends of the Bluff, a neighborhood group, said it regularly cleans the area and works on trail safety.

"We've done a lot of work on trying to reduce the risk of intense fire in the forest," said Dr. Diana Roberts with Friends of the Bluff.

This fire, however, started on 30 acres of private property just below the threatened homes near the transient camp.

"The irony of this fire is that it was not in areas that we had treated," said Roberts.