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The State Of Northwest Fires At The Beginning Of The Week

Jul 11, 2021
Courtesy of Idaho Fire Map

Wildfire season has intensified in the Inland Northwest, with the central Idaho mountains and the area where Washington, Oregon, and Idaho meet as the hot spots.

Rise Above

This week many local Native youth will participate in a basketball and volleyball Rise Above clinic in the Spokane Valley.

The clinic, interspersed with wellness programs and appearances from basketball and volleyball heavy weights, was inspired by founder Jaci McCormack’s experiences with sports, which she calls her saving grace.

McCormack is an Illinois State University women’s basketball legend and grew up on the Nez Perce reservation. She said basketball is where she always goes to find peace.

20 Spokane County Deaths Linked to Heat

Jul 9, 2021

In Spokane 20 deaths and many more medical emergencies have been linked to the heat wave that swept through the Pacific Northwest last week.

Many of the people who died due to heat exposure were found alone, without air conditioning. Health officials expect more deaths this summer across the region as unusually hot weather continues.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, 78 deaths have been attributed to the heat, but the number is likely much higher due to delays in reporting from local governments and health districts.

Courtney Flatt/NW Public Broadcasting

Tribes across the Northwest called for immediate action to remove the four Lower Snake River dams during a two-day Salmon and Orca summit in western Washington. The group called on President Biden and congressional members to “take bold action, now.”

Courtesy of Idaho Fire Map

Crews are making good progress on the Andrus Fire west of Spokane. Fire officials peg the size of that fire at 232 acres, down from about 300, as they’ve updated their mapping.

Meanwhile, several smaller wildfires have broken out all over eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

Courtesy of National Weather Service


The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Wednesday that 17 people in Spokane County have died from heat related illnesses in the last week.

The Pacific Northwest experienced record breaking temperatures, with the city of Spokane reaching an all-time high of 109 last Tuesday.

According to the Medical Examiner, the county saw more heat exposure deaths in the last seven days, than in the last six years. Since 2015, there had been 13 heat exposure deaths.

Several INW Cities Recorded Record High Temps Last Week

Jul 7, 2021
Courtesy of National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has confirmed that many Inland Northwest cities and towns tied or broke all-time high temperature records week. The agency issued what it calls a “record event report” Tuesday evening.

Jacob Frank/National Park Service

Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Tuesday due to wildfires.

According to a press release, Inslee’s proclamation bans most outdoor and agricultural burning until the end of September.

After one last unsuccessful attempt at delay, former Washington state Auditor Troy Kelley has begun serving his federal prison sentence.

Kelley reported last week to a minimum security camp at a Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Herlong, California in the high desert about 50 miles northwest of Reno.

Spokane River Advocates Push Again For PCB Cleanup Plan

Jul 6, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A decade-long battle over removing toxic chemicals from the Spokane River may continue in a Seattle courtroom.

Members of the group Spokane River Team are asking a federal judge to push government regulators to limit the amount of PCBs that can be discharged into the river.

Fire Danger To Increase Tuesday Night, Wednesday

Jul 5, 2021
National Weather Service Spokane

The National Weather Center is warning of extreme fire danger Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Lightning storms, dry conditions and winds are expected to combine Tuesday evening and Wednesday, priming Eastern Washington and North Idaho for wildfires.

Evacuation Ordered For 250-Acre Fire Outside Cheney

Jul 5, 2021
Spokane Fire District 8 Firefighters

Firefighters worked overnight to contain a wildfire burning near Cheney.

As of Monday evening, the Andrus Road fire had charred more than 250 acres, according to a tweet from Washington State Patrol Jeff Sevigney. It’s burning near the Marshall Cemetery.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

For the second year in a row, Fourth of July public fireworks displays were cancelled in the Spokane area. But they may return later this summer.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

This week’s scorching heat has surpassed high temps across the Northwest. Headlines, newscasts and Twitter feeds the past week were full of daily pronouncements about new records being set and, in some cases, “shattered.”

But right now, those all-time heat records are preliminary.

Courtesy of City of Spokane

The worst of the heat wave appears to have passed, but what’s left of it is taking much of the sizzle out of Fourth of July celebrations. Fire officials are discouraging people from discharging their own fireworks and now, even professional shows have been cancelled.

Eleven Deaths in Spokane Area Linked to Record Heat

Jul 1, 2021
Courtesy of National Weather Service

In the aftermath of the record-breaking heat wave, the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s office has linked 11 deaths to the hazardous conditions.

The medical examiner has not yet completed autopsies on many of those death to confirm the cause.

Spokane Public Schools

The Spokane school board voted this week to change the identities of several schools. Most notably, it renamed Sheridan Elementary after Spokane civil rights leader Frances Scott.

Jerrall Haynes, chair of the Spokane Public School Board, said he fully supported the new name, and said it was personally significant to him.

Spokane Public School Board Approves New Boundaries

Jul 1, 2021
Courtesy of Spokane Public Schools

The Spokane Public Schools Board unanimously approved new boundaries during its Wednesday night meeting, the district’s first major boundary change in 40 years.

Spokane Public Schools' new boundaries are designed to keep neighborhoods of students, and cohorts of children together during the transition from elementary to middle school to high school.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell joined Spokane community leaders Thursday in touring a new housing development for families in the Logan neighborhood.

Gonzaga Family Haven is a 73-unit apartment project built by Catholic Charities. It’s wedged between Gonzaga Prep and the Spokane School District’s new Denny Yasuhara Middle School on North Foothills Drive.

Courtesy of National Weather Service

The Inland Northwest’s week of intense heat is giving way to a new weather pattern and at least slightly cooler temperatures.

Much of the region faces at least a slight chance of thundershowers today and temperatures in double, not triple, digits.

Courtesy of Spokane County

The record-breaking heat hitting the northwest is damaging infrastructure, including roads in the greater Spokane region.

At least one unincorporated Spokane County road has been closed due to damage caused by the heat. Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter, the information and outreach coordinator for Spokane County Public Works, said the heat makes the road more susceptible to damage.

“When you’ve got a road surface that’s softening because of the heat, those tires are going to chew up the road surface. It’s not unlike studded tires chewing up asphalt.”

Washington, Oregon Economies Now Open

Jun 30, 2021
Rebecca White/SPR

Wednesday both Washington and Oregon re-opened their economies.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is holding celebratory events around the state, including a stop late Wednesday afternoon in downtown Spokane.

Spokane Chases Another Hot Weather Record

Jun 30, 2021
Courtesy of National Weather Service

Spokane continues to be in record-chasing mode during this heat wave.

The city set a new all-time high temperature record on Tuesday with 109 degrees.

Anna King/Northwest News Network

Record heat across the Northwest is taking a toll on agriculture – both the crops and the workers who harvest them.

Central Washington farmer Alan Schreiber is worried about his fields.

“Melon, watermelon, tomatoes, eggplant, okra. What you call hot crops,” Schreiber says. “But they need a lot of water.”

Copyright 2021 Northwest News Network. To see more, visit Northwest News Network.


Kalispel Tribe Purchases Spokane County Race Track

Jun 29, 2021
Kalispel tribe of indians

Spokane County announced Tuesday that it’s selling its raceway in Airway Heights to the Kalispel Tribe for six-point-one million dollars.

The tribe was reportedly the first to offer to buy the 243-acre property. A competing buyer made counteroffers, but the tribe upped its bid and won the right to buy the property.

The sale includes not just the raceway oval, but existing buildings, some business-related equipment and the land on which they sit.

A Washington state firefighter was hurt battling a fire in Kittitas County on Sunday.

The Department of Natural Resources reports the crew member sustained serious, but not life-threatening injuries and is resting in a hospital. The person’s name hasn’t been released.

The Koffman Road Fire, as it is called, began on Sunday and has burned more than 400 acres of grass and brush. It has since been contained.

Spokane Transit Offering Free Rides to Cooling Centers

Jun 29, 2021

Spokane Transit says it’s working with Avista to make free bus rides available to people who want to find a cooling center to get out of the heat.

The agency says it will provide door-to-door transportation, to and from the centers. People who want a ride must call 509-328-1552 at least two hours in advance. They must wear a mask on all transit vehicles.

The service is available immediately and will continue through Friday.

Power Outages Likely To Continue Through Heat Wave

Jun 29, 2021
Avista Utilities

Power outages caused by the record-breaking heat wave could continue for the rest of the week, as high electric use and hot conditions strain the Inland Northwest’s power grid.

ID Supreme Court Hears Challenge To New Initiative Law

Jun 29, 2021
Idaho Public TV screenshot

The Idaho Supreme Court today [Tuesday] heard a challenge to the state’s tough new initiative signature law. It requires sponsors of ballot measures to collect signatures from every corner of the state. The sponsors say that makes it nearly impossible to qualify a measure for a vote.