Wildfires, high winds quickly evacuate the Washington city of Medicine Lake

Officials issued the order on Friday as the wildfires subsided Draining, washing the entire city of the medicinal lake.

The Ash Fire, pushed by 35 mph winds, grew from 500 acres to nearly 9,500 by Saturday morning, according to tweets from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

One person died and “several” structures were destroyed in the fire, the department said.

Medical Lake has a population of approximately 5,000 and is located 12 miles southwest of Spokane.

“We know there are some houses that have burned. We don’t know how many,” said Joe Smiley, a spokesman for the department, Friday night. Last week was very hot.

The fire jumped Interstate 90 shortly after 5 p.m. Friday, closing parts of the highway in both directions and forcing officials to evacuate the small town of Four Lakes, a town of about 500 people. Another major thoroughfare, State Route 902, was closed in both directions near Medicine Lake.

A view of the ash fire at Medicine Lake in Washington on Friday.Spokane County Fire District 10

Spokane County Sheriff John Knowles said Friday afternoon that his deputies were “running door to door” inside the evacuation zone urging people to leave their homes.

Novels said the fire is “zero percent” contained and burning in heavily populated areas, including neighborhoods and schools.

He estimated that more than 100 law enforcement officers responded to the fire.

“We have to rescue people by boat. We have to rescue people by helicopter,” Knowles said. “If you’re in an evacuation area, get out. We have some people who refused to get out. The fire overtook them where they were and they had to be rescued.”

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Twenty Washington Air National Guard members helped evacuate patients and staff from Eastern State Hospital Friday afternoon. A 367-bed inpatient psychiatric hospital.

Smiley said it was unclear what caused the fire.

By Friday afternoon the agency was encouraging people to seek shelter at a high school in the neighboring city of Chenny. By Friday evening, Cheney was under a level-one evacuation notice, meaning officials asked people to be prepared to leave, according to Smillie. He said authorities are devising an evacuation plan if the fire continues to approach Chenny.

Several fires broke out in other parts of Washington state Friday afternoon, including one near the town of Elk. Burned at least 30 structures.

Much of inland Washington state was under a red flag warning Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

“Hot, dry air will continue into the afternoon, creating critical fire conditions.” The forecasters wrote.

Governor Jay Inslee said his thoughts are with all those affected.

“I am also praying for the safety of the first responders working to contain the fire,” Inslee said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “May you all be safe and out of harm’s way.”

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