What started as one fire Sunday has become two after the Hart Road Fire jumped the Spokane River, creating a second fire dubbed the Cayuse Mountain Fire. Regardless of the name the fires are called they have one thing in common: Destruction.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources says Hart Road has chewed up 4,200 acres. Multiple structures have been lost – fire officials don't have an exact number of homes lost but are working on getting a damage assessment – and containment is estimated at 20-percent.
Across the river, the Cayuse Mountain Fire has burned 13,000 acres, mostly near Wellpinit, and destroyed 20 homes. That fire is 30-percent contained.
Firefighters say there is a big improvement from where they were Monday morning. At that time they were working with just a skeleton crew but Monday night crews from around the state arrived., bringing the resources needed to bear to get the fire under control.
Another change Tuesday was mostly calm skies after two days of gusty winds which whipped the fire out of control. Between the change in the weather and more boots on the ground, fire crews are gaining some measure of containment.
“The focus is to try and build a line around the fire and keep it contained within the perimeter that's on the map,” Public Information Officer Jeanne Klein said.
But crews aren't just working to get a line around the fire itself but houses within that perimeter.
“A lot of the larger perimeter of the fire, as well as those structures that are out there, have been lined,” Paul Galloway with the Northwest Incident Management Team said.
Resources from around the state arriving late Monday night to help fight the flames on the ground and the sky, with aircraft supporting fire crews on both sides of the river.
“We'll be sharing aircraft and that sort of thing with the folks across the river,” Galloway said.
But even with calmer winds crews worry flames could pick up at any moment, racing toward homes, especially in areas where the terrain is more suited for a wildfire.
“Those areas where it's steeper, rocky, a little more vegetation. Those are the areas of concern we have for today,” Klein said.