Lightning strikes keep Fire District 3 busy near Cheney

Published On: Aug 21 2012 07:00:02 PM PDT
Cheney lightning strike wildfire
CHENEY, Wash. -

Fire District 3 firefighters were spread out -- and spread thin -- Tuesday morning battling fires caused by lightning strikes near Cheney.

"At five o clock this morning we had a substantial amount of thunder and lightning going on," Spokane County Fire District 3 battalion chief Don Mangas said.

That lightning sparked four fires around 5 a.m., the largest burning in the 19000 block of Aspen Meadows.

"Everywhere, it was growing fast. Rapid, definitely rapid," Zach Olson said.

Olson and his neighbor woke up around 5 a.m. to find the property across the street illuminated with flames.

"I come out of my house and the fire had just about come across the road here, it was pretty scary," said Olson.

He grabbed a shovel in an attempt to keep the fire away from his house and was successful.

Fire crews from District 3 had a fight on their hands once they arrived. They found fire ten feet away from a water pump house. The flames were moving too quickly -- and the outbuilding was destroyed -- so firefighters moved on to save the home.

"Safety was a big concern for the crews, that's why we threw a few more resources at it, just not knowing what we had and couldn't get a good access to it," Chief Mangas said.

The home was saved but the pump house was lost. The property owner said both his wife's car and a fifth wheel trailer were also damaged by the fire.

However, most importantly, he said he was able to escape safely with his wife and grandchildren.

Firefighters say even though it was lightning caused, the rain that followed did help them in the long run.