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Rain, soft and wonderful, comes too late for many near Spokane

Many Eastern Washington residents watched the soft rain early Tuesday morning over their morning coffee. Thankful.

For some, this recent moisture won’t do much to help. They’ve already lost their homes or other buildings in multiple large fires burning near Spokane. So far, in the Gray Fire, nearly 200 homes and structures burned.

The Gray Fire was more than 10,000 acres as of Wednesday. The Oregon Fire nearby is more than 11,000 acres. Air quality across the region has improved.

The Zappones

In the Spokane area, the Italian Zappone family is big: There are business owners, a judge, a city councilman – dozens of them.

They were heartbroken to learn that two of their homes were destroyed in Medical Lake on Friday – with much of their family history inside.

Stephanie Zappone of Medical Lake just barely escaped on Friday afternoon. She loaded her two dogs into the car as a wall of flames raced toward her house.

Pine trees were sizzling as Stephanie Zappone pulled into her driveway as a tidewave of flames was moving toward her. Even the trees in her front yard were starting to go.

“Those pine trees had embers on them that were orange about halfway up, and speckled,” she said. “And I just kept saying oh my goodness, oh my goodness. Oh my gosh. The backyard is on fire.”

The house burned down just minutes later, Stephanie Zappone said. She’s now with family.

“Saturday and Sunday, we had the 15 people that I care about the most in our mother’s living room,” said Stephanie Zappone. “Reflecting on the fire, that was the fire. This is all that matters. Your family.”

Zappone and her loved ones just now got access to both homes they lost. Zack Zappone, 32, her stepson, said on Monday his brother found a book in the charred shell of one of those homes.

“It’s falling apart as you are holding it,” he said. “The pages were falling away; they're just debris. But yet, he found a page that said Zappone in it. And took a picture of it, and then it disintegrated and was just gone. The reality sets in that it’s gone.”

Right now, Stephanie Zappone and her husband are living at the home of a relative who is ranching in Montana. They have several other places to stay after that. They’re working on looking at what’s in their safe deposit box, and figuring out what else is a priority to start putting their lives back together. They know they’re embarking on a long recovery process that could span more than a year.

[Copyright 2023 Northwest News Network]

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