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SPOKANE — Severe thunderstorms walloped the Spokane area Wednesday afternoon, knocking trees into houses and cars and cutting power to thousands.

The Spokesman-Review reports that sustained winds of 50 to 70 mph were reported just after 4 p.m. before the system moved into the north part of Spokane County. Large hail was reported by the National Weather Service, and emergency crews were responding to numerous fires as downed power lines, trees and branches disrupted traffic and slowed their responses.

Avista initially reported that 8,800 customers were without power in north Spokane, Colville and the Palouse, but that number swelled to almost 22,000 by early evening.

The storms were part of a broader swath of storms that extended from Southeast Washington into the fire zones of Central Washington and north toward Canada.

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