Mullinix Fire contained near Cheney


Sam Jackson

Smoke rises from the site of the Mullinix Fire near Cheney.

By Sam Jackson, Reporter

Some locals of Cheney pondered their next move as smoke dispersed over their homes during a windy evening on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

The  smoke was caused by a wildfire called the Mullinix Fire. It burned 27.8 acres of land and was started by a transient campfire near the train tracks. The fire has yet to be called out completely, but was declared contained and controlled on Oct. 3 at 6:30 p.m. The fire caused many residents to evacuate, including those of Peaceful Pines trailer park, and others were left on standby. One building was visibly damaged by the fire.

Samantha Cook, Cheney resident and EWU alumna, was driving home from work when she noticed smoke surrounding the neighborhood. Cook described the experience to be, “pretty terrifying” as she looked out her kitchen window and saw smoke billowing over her roof. Cook lives about half a block off of Salnave Road and about a block away from where other residents were being evacuated.

“I thought maybe somebody was burning something in their backyard,” Cook said. “People do that, you know, in the fall time they burn leaves and it was smokey enough for it to be close […] and then, as the smoke continued coming and getting stronger with the wind picking up, I thought, that’s not somebody burning something in their backyard.”

Soon after, Cook’s husband’s friend, an EMT with the Cheney Fire Department, called and told them to start packing their bags and prepare to leave in case the wind shifted or continued to blow heavily. Cook’s family was, “on touch-and-go” for about an hour, listening to fire trucks pass, watching airplanes with water rush directly over their home, thinking they might have to drive away and hope their house doesn’t burn down.

Luckily, with a combination of the fire burning out quickly and the wind blowing away from the home they did not have to evacuate.

While Cook was preparing for a possible evacuation, she was forced to think about what means most to her to bring along with her family.

“Personally, I felt really unaware of what was going on,” Cook said. “If I didn’t know someone who worked for the fire department, I wouldn’t have known that I needed to pack a bag and be prepared to leave.”

Next time, Cook plans to have her belongings packed and ready to go in case of another fire.

The planes that Cook saw were sent in by the Northeast Washington Interagency Communications Center, located in Colville, Washington. The center provides emergency support on land for 10 counties outside of Spokane. The dispatch sent in three fire bosses from Deer Park and two additional fire bosses from Omak. The center also provided investigators to find what caused the wildfire. Jill Jones, center manager, said they received the call about the fire at 3:40 p.m.

“We took action because it was an imminent threat to our jurisdiction and to provide support,” Jones said.

According to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources there are still burning restrictions in Spokane and Spokane County. To report a wildfire within the NEWICC dispatch area call 509-685-6900.