Central Washington wildfires burn 250,000 acres

by: Joanna Small, KIRO 7 Staff Updated:

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OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash. —

 

Quick Facts:

  • Carlton Complex fires 16 percent contained
  • 250,000 acres burned
  • Estimated 150 homes lost
  • Burn out operation planned to destroy fire fuel

On Tuesday, the Carlton Complex fires in Central Washington burned at least 7,000 more acres overnight.

The fire in the Methow Valley has burned 250,136 acres and the Forest Service said it is 16  percent contained, mainly on the west side of the fire.

A new fire started Monday night called the Bug Road Fire. It's spreading quickly east of Tonasket.

While the temperatures have been lower, and the winds not as high, there are serious threats of lightning for the valley Wednesday and into Thursday.

"The part we're really concerned about is the piece between Gold Creek and Libby Creek.  It is an active run and they are really concerned about it and it may create some havoc if it does hit Highway 20 and cross that," said firefighter Jason Fallon.

An estimated 150 homes have already been lost.           

Rick Hale drove through a wall of fire to escape his burning home.

"The inside of my truck went from 90 degrees to about 140 in about one second,” said Hale.  “I was more scared than ever in my life and that covers a lot of ground."

He lived 6 miles east of Twisp and drove through a wall of fire to escape his burning home.

See photos of fires across Washington here.

 Now, his home is a tent by the river at the Winthrop Rhythm and Blues Festival.  He's been coming to the celebration for 22 years because he wants to; this year he said he had to.  He's one of dozens of evacuees who lost everything and sought shelter there.  There were bathrooms, showers, and generators.

 "God, Saturday night we probably had 50-60 people because there was nowhere to get any food,” Hale said.  “Nobody had any food so we were letting people in here off the street to get food."

 About two miles back toward town, the local convenience store has food-- but it's going bad.   Twisp and Winthrop have been without power for a week.

Twisp is already virtually shut down. A Mexican restaurant is one of the only places around still serving and with a limited menu.  People said the situation is hard, but they're getting by.

"When I first got here it was really bad.  I was getting headaches and the smoke was really bad but yesterday it got worse," said Twisp resident Jillian Yoakum.

Meanwhile, the area is facing a new problem. The Okanogan Sheriff said on the department Facebook page that they've seen problems with looting.  Some fire victims posted comments saying they've had to run strangers out of their driveways.

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