SPOKANE – Crews watched for hotspots early Tuesday after a wildfire forced dozens of nuns in northeast Spokane to evacuate from the Convent of the Holy Names at 2911 West Fort Wright Drive.
The Government Way Fire started around 2:30 p.m. Monday. The wildfire was burning in an area of grass and trees between Spokane Falls Community College and the Spokane River. Flames traveled northeast along the river.
Initially, the fire spread quickly because of strong winds in the area. At 6:00 p.m., fire officials estimated the fire was about five acres and 75% contained. Bulldozers and hand crews with chainsaws were brought in to clear brush.
Emergency crews evacuated about 60 residents and staff from the area. At the height of the fire, 100 firefighters were on scene.
Most of the residents are between 80 and 90 years old. Some of the nuns were in wheel chairs. The City used STA buses and ambulances to help them get out of danger. The nuns were housed at Mission House and St. Joseph's Care Center. The Red Lion River Inn provided the nuns with complimentary rooms for the night.
At one point, flames reached as close as ten feet from the building. Firefighters put water around the building as a precautionary measure. The convent is made up of various offices, a chapel, and a senior care center.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Due to closure of Ft .George Wright Dr, classes at Spokane Falls Community College campus and the Institute for Extended Learning’s Lodge and Magnuson buildings were canceled Monday evening. Classes resumed as normal for Tuesday.