News

Crews make progress in calming massive Washington state wildfire

Crews make progress in calming massive Washington state wildfire

WILDFIRE:A burnt ATV lies on the road after the Carlton Complex Fire consumed an area near Malott, Washington July 20. Photo: Reuters/David Ryder

By Victoria Cavaliere

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Firefighters made progress on Sunday slowing a massive wildfire in Washington state that has raged unchecked for nearly a week, destroying between 80 and 150 homes and charring a wide swath of wilderness east of the Cascade Mountains.

Containment efforts were aided by cooler weather and slowing winds, allowing some 1,300 firefighters battling the Carlton Complex blaze about 120 miles northeast of Seattle to halt the spread of flames and lower evacuation orders in some areas.

“Firefighters are working hard to take advantage of today’s predicted quieter winds to help them get the remaining portions of the fire lined,” incident Commander Bruce Holloway said in a statement. “They are focusing near homes and communities where needed.”

The fire, one of about 18 raging from northern California to Idaho as the Pacific Northwest enters its annual fire season, has been especially vexing because it is near populated centers in Washington’s picturesque Methow Valley, home to about 10,000 people.

Weather conditions for the early part of the week appeared positive, with a drop in temperatures and some rain expected on Wednesday after a stretch of significant heat and strong winds that helped fan the fire over 238,000 acres (113,311 hectares), forecasters said.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said damage was still being assessed, but estimated that up to 150 homes in a half-dozen towns and rural communities had been lost. There were no reports of serious injuries.

By early Sunday, the blaze had stopped expanding and evacuation orders were lifted in some areas, including the badly damaged town of Pateros, which was emptied of its 650 residents last week.

“It seems to be calming down a whole lot,” Rogers said.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee toured damaged towns, meeting with affected residents and pledging help to rebuild homes.

The blaze has scorched at least 336 square miles (870 sq km) of dry timber and grasslands in north-central Washington since it was sparked by lightning on Monday.

The region’s biggest fire, the lightning-sparked Buzzard Complex, has burned about 315,000 acres (127,476 hectares) in eastern Oregon and residents in the largely rural area on Sunday were experiencing heavy smoke conditions.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Scott Malone, Andrea Ricci, Sharon Bernstein and Clarence Fernandez)

Recent Headlines

33 mins ago in National, World

Islamic State kills U.S. Navy SEAL in northern Iraq

Fresh
10-overlay-1

Islamic State militants killed a U.S. serviceman in northern Iraq on Tuesday after blasting through Kurdish defences and overrunning a town in the biggest offensive in the area for months.

2 hours ago in Local

Federal Energy Regulators Urged to Officially Dismiss Kinder Morgan Pipeline

Fresh
pipeline

The “Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast” has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to dismiss the application “with prejudice,” which means it could not be brought back for a period of time.

2 hours ago in Local

Preservation Efforts Stall in Northfield

Fresh
forest

Seller Northfield Mount Hermon School dropped out of the deal over the weekend.

2 hours ago in Local

Northampton Appoints First Female Public Works Director

Fresh
Jerrey Roberts of the Gazette

Mayor David Narkewicz has appointed Donna LaScaleia to the post. She is the former director of Green Mountain Energy in Vermont.

2 hours ago in Local

Deerfield Election Updates Selectboard

Fresh
election

Planning Board member Henry Komosa and Deerfield Elementary School member Trevor McDaniel were the winners in yesterday’s selectmen’s races.