VALLEYFORD, Wash. -

Firefighters are making headway on the Yale Road Fire, which is now 50-percent contained, thanks in part, crews say, to homeowners who helped stop it from spreading.

South Spokane County is a farming community and the residents know the land better than most firefighters, so when when they saw flames headed their way, instead of evacuating they got to work. When authorities called for Level 3 evacuations, many residents got out. Some homeowners however never left.

“It was probably a mile and a half from our house, our headquarters," Jeff Emtman said. “It was a little nerve wracking. It was moving so fast it was how are you going to stop it, you know."

Emtman's family has farmed these 10,000 acres since the 1880s. When he saw the flames approaching their main concern was to get it stopped and keep it from threatening their homes. So they decided not to evacuate. They stayed and fought the fire.

“Your paycheck's all out there for the year. You get paid once a year and when that crop is threatened, you get pretty concerned about it," he said.

Emtman tilled the land around his family's homes, using a dozer and a tractor to knock the front line of the fire down, saving thousands of acres of cropland in the process.

“It was sending embers out a long ways ahead of the actual fire wall, so it was a tough one to get stopped," Emtman said.

Crews are still battling the Yale Road Fire from the ground and air, bracing for a potentially windy weekend ahead, while Emtman, the fire no longer threatening their homes and land, headed back to work.

“It's harvest. It's what we were doing before the fire. It's nice to see the smoke clear out and a little more relaxed now," he said.