On Friday, local authorities in Medical Lake, Washington issued a mandatory evacuation order for the whole community in advance of an approaching wildfire.
According to tweets sent by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources on Friday afternoon, the Grey Fire spread from its initial estimated size of 500 acres to approximately 3,000 acres in the course of just a few hours. The fire was driven by winds of 35 miles per hour.
By the time it was 5 o’clock in the evening, it had already damaged property within the city limits. Nearly 5,000 people call Medical Lake, which is located about 20 kilometres (12 miles) southwest of Spokane, home.
“We are aware that a number of houses have caught fire. Joe Smillie, a department spokesman, stated that “we don’t know how many” when asked about the number of victims. This became extremely popular in a very short amount of time. The past week has seen record-breaking high temperatures.
After 5 o’clock in the evening, the fire spread to Interstate 90, prompting officials to close down sections of the highway in both directions and forcing the residents of Four Lakes, a tiny village of approximately 500 people, to evacuate. Near Medical Lake, another major road, State Route 902, was closed in both directions for an extended period of time.
John Nowels, the sheriff of Spokane County, stated that his department was not aware of any injuries or fatalities that occurred in Medical Lake. He stated that his officers were “running from house to house” inside the evacuation area on Friday afternoon in an effort to get people to evacuate their homes.
According to Nowels, the blaze has “zero percent” containment and is spreading towards more densely populated regions, including neighbourhoods and a school.
According to his estimation, more than one hundred officers from various law enforcement agencies reacted to the flames.
It was necessary for us to rescue people by boat. According to Nowels, “we’ve had to rescue people by using a helicopter.” “If you’re in an evacuation zone, you need to evacuate immediately. There are some people here who are refusing to leave. The area where they are then becomes engulfed in flames, and it is necessary for them to be saved.
On Friday afternoon, twenty members of the Washington Air National Guard assisted in the evacuation of patients and staff members from the Eastern State institution, which is an inpatient psychiatric institution with 367 beds.
On Friday afternoon, the organisation was advising residents to seek shelter in a high school located in the nearby town of Cheney. According to Smillie, as of Friday evening, the town of Cheney was placed under a level-one evacuation alert, which means that officials asked residents to be prepared to leave the area. He stated that officials were formulating an evacuation strategy in the event that the fire continued to advance towards Cheney.
On Friday afternoon, two other fires broke out in different regions of the state of Washington. Smillie reported that the fires, which were located in the counties of Douglas and Whitman in Washington, had each consumed around 5,000 acres as of about 5 p.m.
According to the National Weather Service, a red flag warning was in effect for a significant portion of the interior of the state of Washington on Friday.
“Warm, dry winds will continue throughout the afternoon producing critical fire conditions,” the forecasts wrote.
The state’s governor, Jay Inslee, expressed his sympathies to all those who had been impacted.
Inslee made his statement on X, which was formerly known as Twitter. “I’m also praying for the safety of the first responders working to contain the fire,” he tweeted. “May all of you remain safe and out of harm’s way.”