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Posted on Jul 5, 2015

Another four wildfires erupt near Quincy; fires coincide with power outage

For the second time in less than a week, some Quincy residents along portions of Monument Hill were forced to evacuate their homes because of fast-moving wildfires.

At about 11:45 p.m. Saturday, about 15 homes to the north of Quincy were forced to evacuate their homes because of threatening wildfires fueled by wind gusts of at least 30 mph.

Level 3 evacuations, which order residents to leave their homes immediately, were given to homes in the areas of Baird Springs Road and Road Q Northwest, Road P and Road 13 Northwest, and Road 12 and Road U Northwest.

Those evacuation orders have since been lifted. No structures were burned in the fires, which is being called the Hills Fire. The Hills Fire is at about 5,000 acres.

Fire crews stationed at 13th Avenue Southwest pump water from an irrigation canal into waiting trucks. The process is called drafting.

Fire crews stationed at 13th Avenue Southwest pump water from an irrigation canal into waiting trucks. The process is called drafting.

At the start of the July 4th holiday weekend, the National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning for high fire danger across much of North Central Washington. Gusty winds, hot temperatures and low humidity were expected to combine to create a potential wildfire environment, according to the NWS.

In Quincy, firefighters battled four fires Saturday evening that burned westward across Monument Hill, about 3 miles north of Quincy. Early Sunday morning two of the fires were out.

One of those fires is suspected to be a flare-up from a 2,100-acre fire that started around 11 p.m. on June 30, said Chief Don Fortier of Grant County Fire District No. 3. The high winds probably ignited a second fire in the already burned area, he said.

However, the other three fires were new fires; their cause is not known, Fortier said.

The fires coincided with a power outage that affected some 8,400 homes in north Quincy, Ephrata and Soap Lake. The power outage was reported at 11 p.m., and Grant PUD was able to get power fully restored to Quincy users by 3:30 a.m., said Chuck Allen, PUD spokesman.

Grant PUD crews repair power poles damaged by the Hills Fire.

Grant PUD crews repair power poles damaged by the Hills Fire.

The power outage occurred along a line that runs 35 miles from the utility’s Columbia Substation in Douglas County to its Rocky Forge Substation on Highway 17 between Ephrata and Moses Lake. That line feeds north Quincy, Ephrata and Soap Lake.

The gusty winds Saturday evening likely caused those lines to whip back and forth, Allen said. When those lines touch, a fault occurs in the line, causing an outage, he explained.

Allen said at this time it appears the fire and power outage may be coincidental; however, no final determination has been made, he said early Sunday afternoon.

The Grant County fire marshal will take the lead on the investigation of the Sunday wildfires, said Kyle Foreman, spokesman for the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, who was stationed on Sunday at Grant County Fire District No. 3 in Quincy.

Local fire officials also made a request for assistance to the Washington State Fire Resource Mobilization Plan. That request was approved shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday.

 — By Jill FitzSimmons, editor@qvpr.com

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