Firefighters were battling hard Sunday night to save homes in northern Spokane County as two fast-moving fires broke out.
The fires were reported within about an hour of each other late Sunday afternoon and soon led officials to evacuate residents.
No structures had burned as of 11 p.m. Sunday.
The Hardesty Valley fire was reported just after 5 p.m. near 6800 E. Valley Lane in Elk, Spokane County Fire District 4 Capt. Megan Hill said. It spread quickly to the northwest, she said. It was mapped at 24 acres late Sunday. The fire is about two miles south of the Pend Oreille County line and a mile east of U.S. Highway 2.
Residents who live south of Elk-to-Highway Road, north of Valley Road, east of Hardesty Lane and west of Bruce Road were placed under a Level 3 evacuation order and asked to leave immediately. That evacuation order, however, was downgraded to a Level 2 order at about 10:15 p.m.
The Hazard Hill fire was reported in the 5100 block of West Hazard Road around 5:50 p.m. and grew to about 60 acres, Hill said.
Fire came within a couple trees of at least one home, but crews were on-site working to protect it.
Residents north of Hazard Road, south of Ballard Road and west of Austin Road were under an Level 3 evacuation order late Sunday. The order was downgraded to a Level 2 late Sunday, Hill said. The evacuation area is a couple miles west of the Hatch Road exit on U.S. Highway 395.
Both fires were burning timber and grass. The cause of the fires is under investigation.
Three planes and one helicopter were helping battle the Hardesty Valley fire, Hill said. Air support also is being used on the fire near Hazard Road.
Several agencies assisted District 4, including the Department of Natural Resources, South Pend Oreille Fire and Rescue, and Spokane County Fire Districts 3, 8 and 9, as well as the Spokane, Spokane Valley and Airway Heights fire departments.
Hot and dry conditions are expected to last throughout the week in the region. An Air Quality Alert remains in effect for areas of Okanogan, Stevens and Ferry counties due to wildfire smoke in the region.