Washington state wildfire destroys 80 homes
SEATTLE - A fast-moving wildfire burning east of Washington state’s Cascade Mountains destroyed at least 80 homes and displaced hundreds of people on Friday as it scorched through parched vegetation and showed no sign of letting up, emergency officials said.
In the town of Pateros, about 120 miles northeast of Seattle, the entire population of about 650 people was under mandatory evacuation orders, though some began returning Friday to survey the charred remains of their homes and belongings.
“The fire basically burned out the town of Pateros,” said Mark Clemens, a spokesman with the Washington Emergency Management Division.
In the nearby city of Brewster, a hospital and several homes were evacuated and much of the area was without power after the Carlton Complex fire, triggered by lightning strikes earlier this week, charred 186,000 acres across the picturesque Methow Valley.
Brewster officials have requested generators and other emergency supplies as power is restored, Clemens said.
So far, about 80 homes and other dwellings have been confirmed lost, including at least 35 in Pateros, 40 at Alta Lake and the remaining spread through the region, according to the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office.
The fires were among dozens burning from northern California to Idaho as the nation’s drought-parched Western states enter their annual fire season.
Both Washington and Oregon have declared states of emergency in swaths of the states as wildfires scorched thousands of acres, destroying homes, outbuildings and crops.
In Oregon, more than a dozen fires have erupted in the past week, with one of the largest, the Waterman Complex, burning more than 4,300 acres about 10 miles northeast of the small eastern city of Mitchell. Officials ordered about 20 households to evacuate.
There have been no reports of injuries in Washington, but officials stressed the situation was fluid and damage was still being assessed. The fire was zero percent contained on Friday as firefighters struggled in dry conditions that made for extreme burning conditions.
Evacuations were urged throughout the region and emergency shelters have opened.
"Without an improvement in weather conditions we could possibly see some very large growth" said Jim Archambeault, a spokesman for the Carlton Complex fire. Also in the Cascades, a separate blaze called the Chiwaukum Creek fire left a heavy layer of smoke visible 100 miles away in Seattle. Some 800 fire personnel were still battling the blaze, officials said.