A large, wind-whipped wildfire in rural north-central Washington destroyed an estimated 100 homes, forced the evacuation of a small town and cut power to most of the scenic Methow Valley.
A spokesman for the Carlton Complex Fire, Jacob McCann, said Friday that the fire ran quite a bit on Thursday and officials were also able to get a better handle on its size. It blackened 260 square miles by Friday morning, up dramatically from the last estimate of 28 square miles.
Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday morning that his team counted 30 homes and trailers destroyed in Pateros, another 40 in a community just outside the town at Alta Lake and about 25 homes destroyed elsewhere in the county with a population of 40,000.
The town of Pateros was under mandatory evacuation orders overnight, but those have since been lifted. Early Friday, homeowners in Pateros and Brewster were allowed back into town to check on their belongings.
The fire has moved out of the immediate area, however, some road closures were still in place.
Rogers said no injuries have been reported.
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Firefighter Don Scahfer reported several community buildings were destroyed in the fire including the local post office, school, a church, and a hardware store.
Two major power lines, one feeding Pateros and one feeding Winthrop and Twisp, have burned, causing a widespread power outage in the county, said Scott Miller, the county's emergency manager.
Most of the Methow Valley from Carlton to Mazama was without power after utility poles burned. The Methow Valley, about 180 miles east of Seattle, is a popular area for hiking and fishing.
As of early Friday, fire officials estimated the fire to be about 167,000 acres in size. That is nearly 9 times the size it was on Thursday night when the fire was reported to be just 18,000 acres in size. Crews also expect two wildfires in the area to eventually combine into one.
Evacuations of Pateros took place late Thursday night in Okanogan County due to a wildfire that has burned dozens of homes along the Columbia River. Thirty-five homes in and near Pateros have been destroyed, according to county officials. Roads were blocked throughout the area as of early Friday.
Thursday night, the fire jumped across Highway 97 between Brewster and Pateros, according to the Associated Press. The fire, known as the Carlton Complex fire, burned at least 28 square miles of scenic countrysidebetween Thursday and Friday. As of early Friday, the fire had not been contained.
State-wide, firefighting resources are hard to come by simply because there have been so many wildfires. About 1,000 firefighters were fighting blazes in Washington, including the Mills Canyon Fire, the state's largest at 35 square miles.
As long as structures are threatened, our team will get together to work quickly to present that case to the federal government through FEMA that we need additional financial assistance, said Robert Ezelle, Washington's emergency management director.
In Pateros and Leavenworth, thick smoke and ash have been filling the air. Many people say it is similar to what was experienced after Mount St. Helens erupted.
The Chiwaukum Creek Fire chased people from nearly 900 homes as it burned near the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth.
That fire sent a light dusting of ash over Leavenworth, and its smoke plume rose 25,000 feet into the air. The blaze closed 15 miles of U.S. Highway 2.
Residents of 860 homes have been told they should leave immediately, fire officials said. Another 800 homes were less seriously threatened.
Authorities said Thursday that the Chiwaukum Creek Fire has grown to more than 10 square miles. It was first detected Tuesday.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Contributing:KING 5's Michael Konopasek, Associated Press writers Nicholas K. Gernaios in Spokane and Donna Blankenship in Seattle.