A massive wildfire in north-central Washington was building up fast and shifting to new directions as it is being pushed by high, erratic winds.
The lightning-caused wildfire was calculated at 260 square miles on Friday. As of Saturday morning, the fire traveled at almost 340 square miles in the Methow Valley northeast of Seattle. Residents of Carlton and Pateros have been advised to evacuate.
‘We’re seeing some wind shifts so that the fire is going to be pushed in some directions it hasn’t been pushed to date,’ fire spokesperson Chuck Turey stated.
The fire has wrecked 100 homes on Thursday and Friday, leaving behind chimneys and burned-out vehicles. Electric lines were down, causing power and communication outage in several towns. Officials had reported minor burns and contusions among the residents of the affected areas but no cases of serious injuries. This is a ‘pretty amazing safety record,’ stated fire spokesman Chuck Turey.
According to Turey, water and fire retardant were being dropped by helicopters and planes on all parts of the fire, with no one area preferred over another.
Residents are fighting for survival as fire continues to jump to anything that hasn’t burned yet, destroying property and killing livestock. ‘It’s just starting to run out of places to burn,’ said Okanogan County Sherriff Frank Rogers.
The north side of the fire near Winthrop has picked up, but erratic winds have been blowing it in different directions. The fire was burning in a small-populated area, with houses spread along the road and throughout the woods.
In a KING-TV interview, fire officials said that the Chiwaukum Creek Fire west of Leavenworth has expanded to 11,444 acres and has not been restrained. The television station reported that no structures were burned but that residents in the area near Leavenworth have been ordered to leave their homes, according to the Washington Department of Natural Resources. US Highway 2 from Coles Corner to Leavenworth has been closed.
In Washington, 50 fires were burning, according to Gov Jay Inslee. About 2,000 firefighters were battling the fire on the eastern part of the state. About twelve helicopters from the Department of Natural Resources and the National Guard and a Washington State Patrol spotter plane were utilized.
The Department of Natural Resources of Washington informed the public that firefighters from New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming are coming to the state to help put out the blazes. Two military air tankers from Wyoming were announced to be brought in to help kill the wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and other places.