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Avista thanks customers, employees for patience and hard work after storm

Avista thanks customers, employees for patience and hard work after storm

Avista released a big thank-you today to all their customers impacted by last Wednesday's wind storm for their patience during repairs, and to their crews for working non-stop to get everyone back online.

Avista says last week's storm caused the worst damage to their system since a massive ice storm in 1996, nearly 20 years ago. This time around it took nearly 96 hours to restore power to the nearly 40,000 customers left without.

Now that all the power is back on, Avista is getting a better look at the damage. Preliminary numbers show that more than 120 poles had to be replaced after high winds toppled trees onto power lines and snapped poles. That's double their initial estimate.

Dispatchers worked around the clock to prioritize work and dispatch crews to areas of highest need, organizing nearly 14,000 outage reports from customers.

Monday update for Watermelon Hill Fire

Monday update for Watermelon Hill Fire

More than 300 fire crews are continuing to work on containing the Watermelon Hill Fire burning seven miles southwest of Cheney and four miles east of Interstate 90.

The fire started Saturday afternoon and quickly grew – numbers released Monday place the fire at 11,000 acres, 40 percent of which have been contained.

Level two and three evacuation notices for the fire have been lowered to level 1, with the exception of the Fishtrap Lake Resort which remains at a level 3.

Today fire crews expect to deal with winds from the southwest at 8-11 miles per hour, and the occasional gust of up to 16 miles per hour.

 

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FEMA funds authorized for Carlton Complex fire

FEMA funds authorized for Carlton Complex fire

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Carlton Complex Fire, burning in Okanogan County, Washington.

FEMA Region X Regional Administrator, Kenneth D. Murphy determined that the Carlton Complex Fire threatened enough destruction to constitute a major disaster. Murphy approved the state's request for federal Fire Management Assistance Grant on Thursday.

When the request was submitted on Wednesday, no homes had burned. Today, dozens of homes and businesses have burned to ash as the fire moved through the small town of Pateros. Nearby Brewster is also under a level three evacuation order, meaning residents must leave the area immediately.

A Red Cross shelter has been set up in the town of Chelan for anyone who needs assistance, including cots, meals and water.

State of emergency declared for 20 counties

State of emergency declared for 20 counties

A state of emergency has been declared in 20 eastern Washington counties due to multiple wildfires threatening homes, businesses and public infrastructure. The National Weather Service has also posted red flag warnings and fire weather watches for hazardous conditions (high temperatures, low humidity, high winds) for much of eastern Washington through Friday.

Impacted counties include:

Fire danger on the rise

Fire danger on the rise

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources announced several chances to local fire danger levels, effective at midnight Wednesday (July 9) morning.

The fire danger is increasing from moderate to high in Spokane, Okanogan and north Lincoln county along with fire districts 1 and 2 in Stevens County.

The fire danger is creasing from low to moderate in Pend Oreille and Ferry counties along with Stevens county outside of fire districts 1 and 2.

The increased levels mean all outdoor burning is banned with the exception of recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds. The use of gas and propane barbeques along with self-contained stoves are allowed.

Riverside State Park wants to make you Happy

Does visiting Riverside State Park make you Happy? That's the theme of a new music video they debuted this week.

Featuring a funky park ranger who isn't afraid to bust a move and hundreds of volunteers dancing to the hit song Happy by Pharell Williams, the video has already been viewed 12-hundred times since it was posted last Friday.

Anyone with a keen eye will also be able to pick out some of their favorite locations in the park, and maybe even a guest appearance by none other than Smokey Bear.

Riverside State Park is a 14,000-acre camping park along the Spokane and Little Spokane rivers. The park supports a wide variety of recreational activities and is rich in history.

Freshwater marshes, running rivers and beautiful countryside make up the terrain. The park also includes the Nine Mile Recreation Area which is available for camping, picnicking, swimming, fishing and boating.

Burn ban on DNR forestland east of Cascades starts July 1

Burn ban on DNR forestland east of Cascades starts July 1

Another warning in the face of the upcoming Fourth of July weekend – the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has placed a burn ban on all DNR-protected land east of the Cascades.

Starting July 1 and running until September 30, the burn ban applies to all forestland under DNR fire protection.

“The seasonally dry weather creates a greater risk for wildfires,” said Commission of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “A burn ban helps to prevent them and protects forests, habitat and property.”

So far this year DNR has already had 172 wildfire starts, which have burned approximately 779 acres across the state.

The ban applies to all outdoor burning on DNR forestland with two exceptions:

Recreational fires in approved fire pits

Gas or propane stoves and barbecue grills

Fireworks and incendiary devices like exploding targets, sky lanterns or tracer ammunition are also illegal.