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In Elmer City, high winds whip up fire, burning homes

 

From a mobile home park below the highway, fire in Elmer City spreads quickly uphill in high winds. The photo was taken with a telephoto lens from the Riley Point overlook just below the top of Grand Coulee Dam. - Scott Hunter photo

High winds threw an Elmer City fire across Highway 155 last night after a blaze started in the Grandview Mobile Home Park below the highway.

Details were sketchy last night, but one person with an emergency channel radio said at least three mobile homes had burned. From a vantage point a couple miles away, the fire apparently had burned up a ravine that skirts the town to its south, threatening houses on the hillside.

A fire truck drove up to one home near the top of the street that a woman watching from the former Highway Tire building more than a mile away said was where she was living.

She had left with her children, just in time, after having just returned from buying groceries, driving south on the highway, which was then in flames on either side of her.

The fire started about 6 p.m. with the wind pushing it uphill quickly.

Area automated weather stations were reporting winds between 10 and 20 miles per hour. The terrain was still August-dry, and firefighters knew to call in help quickly. Soon, every fire department from Electric City to Nespelem was on the scene.

The wind appeared to shift at 7 p.m., coming from the north, but smoke was starting to subside, indicating control was being gained of the fire.

At 9:23, tribal dispatch, which works with Elmer City, stated the highway would be opened up to traffic momentarily.

Fire authorities did not return calls seeking details before deadline.

Here's a brief video taken from the former Highway Tire building outside Coulee Dam:

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