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Watermelon Hill fire grows to 13,000 acres in Eastern Washington

A 13,000 acre fire is burning in Eastern Washington, just south of Cheney and Spokane.
A 13,000 acre fire is burning in Eastern Washington, just south of Cheney and Spokane.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Watermelon Hill fire news from Sunday morning (July 20) isn't very good. High winds have caused the Watermelon Hill fire to expand from 5,000 to 13,000 acres overnight. According to a report from NWCN, crews have achieved zero containment on the growing wildfire. The cities of Cheney, Sprague, and Spokane are not in immediate danger, but that could certainly change if the fire isn't brought under control.

This fire gets its name from Watermelon Hill, the area where it is being reported that the fire began. It originated in Lincoln County, but also spread into Spokane County later in the day on Saturday (July 19). Due to its size and location near some very populated areas, there has been a massive response to the scene already. Five aircraft are working at putting it out along with 200 firefighters. That number is expected to increase a bit later on Sunday.

Mandatory evacuations took place for Scroggie Road and Fishtrap Lake Resort, with many surrounding areas being put on a warning due to the progress of the fire. Livestock and horses were being evacuated to the Cheney rodeo grounds and displaced people were being taken to Cheney Middle School. About 100 homes were in danger at last report, with that number very likely to increase as more information comes out on Sunday.

Smoke from the Watermelon Hill fire can be seen for miles and it is leaving a thick haze over the surrounding areas. This, coupled with the Okanagan County fires has created a problem with the air quality in the area as well. Several other new fires have been reported in Eastern Washington, stretching the resources of the state even further. 100 members of the National Guard have been called into action and it is possible that this number will go up as well.

Fishtrap Lake, where the fire evacuations have taken place, is about seven miles northeast of Sprague. The lake is also just off of I-90 and roughly 15 miles southwest of Cheney.