Unseasonal Wildland Urban Interface Fire

Tour Commander, 509.625.7100

Monday, April 11, 2022 at 8:24 a.m.

On Friday, April 8, 2022, at 4:59 PM, the Spokane Fire Department (SFD) was dispatched to a small brush fire reportedly near the intersection of South Russell and Highway 2. The incident was very close to Spokane's Fire Station 6, which allowed the company to quickly discover a 1/4 acre wildland urban-interface (WUI) fire that was wind-driven and moving swiftly. Recognizing that the fire was moving east and threatening several dwellings and their primary means of evacuation, the incident was upgraded to include a greater response of mixed fire service resources necessary to protect citizens and suppress the fire.  

Eventually, the incident required three alarms of resources: 8 Structural Engines, 18 Brush Engines, 2 Dozers, 6 Overhead (Chief Officers), and 2 Tenders (air resources were unavailable). Every brush apparatus in SFD's fleet was utilized during the incident. Mutual aid resources accompanied SFD in managing the fire from Spokane Fire Districts 3 and 10, Airway Heights, Fairchild Air Force Base, and the Department of Natural Resources.

The additional personnel and resources from the subsequent alarms were strategically placed to protect structures and indirectly attack the fire. The aggressive strategy and firefighters' efforts successfully stopped the fire's forward progress, protected property, and, most importantly, saved lives. Due to the intense efforts of 68 firefighters yesterday, overnight, and this afternoon, the fire has been extinguished without injuries or property loss. The fire was contained to 26 acres at the end of the night shift (4/8). The 24 structures and parcels within the fire's perimeter were protected and remain undamaged this afternoon. A 1/10 acre small spot fire was discovered this morning and extinguished quickly by DNR firefighters monitoring the lines.

Like most fires involving the wildland or the WUI, weather played a crucial factor in this event. Firefighters faced high wind conditions sustained in the 30s with gusts recorded up to 45 mph. Despite the low temperatures (50s), the relative humidity during the fire's rapid growth was only 16-19%.

The cause of the fire was an adult male using a torch. The Spokane Police Department has made an arrest in the case. More information will be available as details in the investigation are pending.

This incident highlights the dangers of WUI incidents within the Spokane Community. The SFD continues to invest resources to support a Fire Adapted Community that is engaged with aspects of our ecosystem such as infrastructure and building planning, landscaping, urban forestry, and policies that are intended to lessen the need for extensive protection actions and enable us to safely accept fire as part of the surrounding landscape.