Saturday Update on Local Fire Impacts

Message from President Shari McMahan

August 19, 2023 By David Meany
Picture: Top of Showalter Hall

Our hearts go out to all of our community members who have been impacted by the Gray (Medical Lake) fire, as well as other fires in the area. As of this morning, we are aware of at least one casualty, and the loss of many homes of our community members. Please know that EWU is here for you and we will continue to provide resources and support.

As of 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning, here is what we know:

  • Update: Spokane County has officially announced a state of emergency.
  • The Gray (Medical Lake) fire is currently burning in the Medical Lake area and near Cheney, has spread to 9,500+ acres and approximately 185 structures have been lost.
  • Medical Lake and Four Lakes are at a Level 3 (Go Now) Evacuation notice. All individuals in these areas should head to designated shelters or safe locations.
    • Shelters are located at Spokane Falls Community College. Animals may be taken to Spokane County Fairgrounds.
  • Cheney and EWU are not under any active evacuation alert at this time. Please note that fire conditions may change quickly. Visit the list of emergency resources below to ensure you are receiving the latest updates from official agencies.
  • Tyler is at a Level 2 (Get Set) Evacuation notice.
  • I-90 is closed in both directions from milepost 257 at Tyler to milepost 278 at SR-2 (top of Sunset Hill). There is fire on both sides of the freeway.
  • SR-904 has a detour in place through Cheney.

While the EWU Cheney campus is not under any evacuation orders at this time, please observe the following:

  • EWU buildings in Cheney are closed–please do not come to campus unless specifically directed to do so. Please avoid EWU Spokane locations if possible.
  • Avoid driving into Cheney unless absolutely necessary.
  • Staff continue to engage in planning options for occupants in the dorms in case circumstances change.

Updates for the campus community, including Monday’s operations, will be issued once leadership and emergency management officials have completed safety assessments. Please continue to monitor official communications channels for evolving conditions.

For our students, faculty and staff who are impacted, please prioritize your safety–and know that we are here for you. If you are impacted by this fire:

  • Please let your supervisor know; we will support your needs.
  • If your home has been affected by fire, resources are available through the American Red Cross: 1-844-292-7677.
  • If you need food, you can find meal sources near you through 2nd Harvest.
  • Please also remember that we have the Employee Assistance Program available to all EWU employees.
  • Students should contact or be referred to the Student Accommodations and Support Services team.

On behalf of Eastern, I want to thank the hard working and dedicated community members combatting these fires and providing services to impacted individuals and families. In response to community needs, EWU has provided food supplies to the SFCC shelter. And we will continue to provide support as needs emerge. For those who are able, please consider donating food to a local food pantry. We will share additional opportunities as they become available.

Together, we will care for our fellow community members and support one another during these difficult times. Please know that the entire EWU community is here to support you.

Dr. Shari McMahan


Eastern Washington University