2 dead, dozens of structures destroyed as 3 wildfires burn in Eastern Washington

Fast-moving wildfires raced through Eastern Washington over the weekend, burning homes and prompting evacuation orders for thousands of people in small rural communities.

One of the fires, the wind-driven Gray Fire, has destroyed more than 185 structures, closed a major highway and left two people dead.

Another person was found dead in the Oregon Road fire on Sunday. 

INTERACTIVE MAP: Wildfires in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California

As of Sunday morning, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Spokane was in the range that is considered "hazardous."

According to the AQI to Cigarettes Calculator, spending a single hour outside in Spokane is equivalent to smoking 1.02 cigarettes.

Gray Fire (Spokane County)

One of the largest blazes, the Gray Fire near Medical Lake just north of Spokane, began Friday afternoon.

As of Tuesday morning the fire has burned 10,085 acres and is at 97% containment. At least one person has died in this fire, and more than 185 structures have been lost.

Level 3, or "Go Now," evacuations were issued for Medical Lake, a community of about 4,800 people and some homes and other buildings had burned, authorities said, although it wasn't clear how many.

National Guard troops were called in to help evacuate patients and staff from Eastern State Hospital, a 367-bed psychiatric facility in Medical Lake.

FOX 13 spoke to a Spokane County woman who had to be evacuated twice, because of the fire.

"We had to evacuate Lakeland Village, and then we had to evacuate the evacuation point," said local resident Colette Buck. "It was pretty wild. It moved so fast too. I'm so thankful for all of the Lakeland Village staff who worked tirelessly to evacuate our residents not once, but twice."

Authorities were calling in more aircraft and firefighters to battle the Gray Fire, which closed down Interstate 90. By Monday afternoon, both directions of I-90 were back open.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. 

RELATED: What went right: How first responders quickly tackled a Lakewood brushfire that foreced evacuations

Oregon Road Fire (Spokane County)

A second Spokane County blaze dubbed the Oregon Road Fire also prompted evacuations, the DNR said.

That fire broke out near Elk at around 4 p.m. on Friday, and in only a few hours grew to some 3 square miles.

Washington State DNR reported Monday morning that this fire has burned 10,817 acres and is 90% contained.

The region was scorched by triple-digit temperatures last week, leaving grasslands and wheat fields ready to burn, said Joe Smillie, spokesperson for the DNR.

"We haven’t had any real rain all summer, basically," he said, and then a cooler weather front moved in Thursday, bringing with it gusty winds.

The National Weather Service had warned of "critical fire conditions," citing dry conditions and the potential for gusty winds that could cause new or existing fires to spread rapidly.


Total campfire ban in place for Olympic National Park and Forest starting Aug. 18

A total campfire ban will be put in place throughout the Olympic National Park and the Olympic National Forest starting Friday, Aug. 18. This also goes for coastal areas of ONP.

Winona Fire (Whitman County)

South of Spokane, the Winona Fire in Whitman County had burned at least 5,000 acres of grass and brush and prompted evacuations orders for Winona, a tiny hamlet of about 50 residents. As of Saturday, this fire remains 0% contained.

"Cropland, range land, primary structure and secondary structures are threatened," the DNR said on social media.

The fires were among 36 blazes that erupted around the state in the past two days, although most were small and quickly contained, Smillie said.

There wasn't any immediate word on what sparked the blazes.

How will these wildfires impact Western Washington

Wind direction is forecast to shift, blowing smoke from wildfires in the region to Puget Sound. Air quality across western Washington is at risk for the weekend, which could make situations especially unhealthy for those with medical conditions.

"We’re warning people about taking steps to protect themselves, staying indoors as much as possible," said Seth Preston, communications director for Northwest Clean Air Agency (NWCAA).

READ MORE: Smoke from wildfires in the region could impact weekend air quality in western Washington

NCWAA issued a Stage 2 Air Quality Burn Ban for Skagit, Whatcom and Island Counties, beginning the morning of Aug.19 until at least August 21. Preston said those counties have been spared thus far from the Sourdough Wildfire smoke, but that could change as smoke is forecast to affect the air quality for the next few days.

"People really need to understand that even if you’re in very good health breathing wildfire smoke is going to affect you in some way," said Preston. "It’s not good for your lungs, it’s not good for your heart."

Smoke from wildfires in other parts of Washington, Idaho and Canada are also contributing to the affected air quality.

The Associated Press Contributed to this article.