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Grant County Fair evacuated, residents urged to stay indoors due to severe thunderstorm

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The National Weather Service issued strong warnings about a thunderstorm moving across eastern Washington that forced the evacuation of 8,000 people at the Grant County Fairgrounds Tuesday afternoon.

The severe storm was expected to reach the Waterville Plateau around 8 p.m. The effects of the storm — including strong winds and dust storms — expected to pass through Douglas and Okanogan County.

The Weather Service issued an immediate warning just before 7 p.m. that the storm was capable of producing 60-plus mph winds, destructive hail, deadly lightning and very heavy rain. It urged people to stay indoors.

Grant County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kyle Foreman said his office began evacuating the fairgrounds in Moses Lake around 4:15 p.m. and finished around 6:30 p.m. Some 8,000 people were there for the opening day of the fair.

Eastbound I-90 was closed at the Grant County-Lincoln County line due to a multiple vehicle accident with numerous injuries, Foreman said. The accident was caused by poor visibility due to blowing dust.

There is also a large wildfire south of the Moses Lake sand dunes being pushed by the winds that is threatening homes, Foreman said. “I hear the frantic fire command on the radio, so you know it’s big,” he said of the blaze.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office is urging people to stay indoors as the storm approaches because of dangerous conditions.


Michelle McNiel: 664-7152

Reach Michelle McNiel at 509-664-7152 or . Follow her on Twitter at @MichelMcNielWW.