The entire town of Pateros in northwestern Washington along the Columbia River, population just under 700, was evacuated this week as the Carlton Complex fire roared through. The latest reports indicate that at least 100 homes have been destroyed by the fire, and by mid-day Friday pictures of the devastation started to appear on social media.
Many wildfires in Oregon and Washington state are burning out of control this week, as both states have been issued almost daily fire weather warnings. Here’s a wrap up of some of the major fires burning in both states:
Chiwaukum Creek Fire: Ignited by lightning on Tuesday, this rapidly spreading wildfire had consumed 6,630 acres by Friday morning, and forced nearly 900 residents near Leavenworth, Washington to evacuate this week. The fire forced the shutdown of several miles of U.S. Highway 2.
The fire is part of the Mills Canyon Complex, which includes the Mills Canyon Fire, burning near Entiat and now at 22,571 acres, and the Kelly Mountain Fire, also near Entiat, which has burned between 60 and 80 acres.
Meanwhile, the Carlton Complex in the Wenatchee National Forest in Washington has forced all residents of the small town of Pateros to evacuate. One of the complex’s four fires has already destroyed many homes and made a run that, by Friday morning, put the fire’s size at 260 square miles, The Associated Press reported. That’s about 167,000 acres. Reports vary as to how many homes the fire has destroyed, but the latest estimate seems to be at least 100.
All of the Carlton Complex fires were ignited by lightning on July 14: Stokes Fire, Gold Hikes Fire, French Creek Fire and the Cougar Flat fire. The Stokes Fire and the Gold Hikes fire have merged into one fire, according to Inciweb.
There are currently 14 major fires burning in Oregon. The Moccasin Hill Fire has destroyed an unknown number of homes–at last count, officials said that 33 had been destroyed. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has declared a state of emergency.
The spread of the Mills Canyon Fire at Entiat, Washington has slowed considerably. The Incident Management Team reports that it has now burned 22,571 acres and is 25 percent contained. For Monday, the team expects:
…The east and north flanks are expected to have little or no fire spread and will continue in patrol status. There will be some creeping fire along the west and southwest flanks with some isolated torching. Overall, only minor perimeter growth is expected. Evening thunderstorms and associated winds will test existing contained fire edges and effects of storms will be closely monitored.
The Mills Canyon Fire at Entiat, Washington continued to spread on the west side Saturday, but more slowly than in previous days. The Washington Interagency Incident Management Team #2, which distributes few updates, said Saturday morning the fire had burned 21,823 acres. In their InciWeb report the team called it 22 and 25 percent contained in two different places . On Friday crews completed a burnout operation around homes on the east side of the fire that required the closure of Highway 97A. The eastern end of Swakane Canyon was secured with handline, but the fire spotted across Rattlesnake Road further to the west. Hotshot crews constructed containment lines in that area assisted by 60,000 gallons of retardant from a DC-10 and other air tankers. The Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 3, lead by Incident Commander Ed Lewis, will assume command of the fire at 6 a.m. Sunday.
The map of the Mills Canyon Fire above shows that the fire has grown to 21,000 acres. Over the last 24 hours it has been most active on the northwest and west sides, continuing to spread along the south side of Entiat River Road. **** (UPDATED at 9 p.m. PDT, July 11, 2014)
The Washington Interagency Incident Management Team #2 is not making many current maps available of the Mills Canyon Fire at Entiat, Washington, even to their own personnel. We were able to scrounge up the map above that was issued July 11, but it contains fire perimeter data from 2 p.m. July 10. The Team is still saying the fire has burned 18,065 acres and they are calling it 19 percent contained. Highway 97A has reopened.
Rare winter fires are burning in Oregon’s Coast Range in areas that would normally be cold and wet much of the year, but especially in January. They are not huge, but some fires in Washington and Oregon are large enough to be detected by a satellite as you can see in the image above.
ARCH CAPE, Ore. — Rare winter wildfires in the Oregon Coast Range, visible from as far as 20 miles away, continued to burn early Friday morning east of Arch Cape.
The first was reported about 3 p.m. Thursday and second one about midnight south of the original fire, according to Seaside police.
Because it has been so dry and the wind has blown so hard early this winter season, forestry officials believe smoldering slash piles from the fall roared back to life and became new, bigger fires.
The fires, called Falcon and Shingle, were burning about 120 total acres Friday afternoon. A flight restriction was put in the place around the fires.
Gusts that reached an estimated 70 mph had flames jumping logging roads. At least 120 people were involved in the firefighting efforts by early Friday morning, including crews from Cannon Beach, Seaside, Gearhart, Nehalem departments and the U.S. Forest Service.
Taking advantage of the snow, the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge fire staff is catching up on their pile burning south of Cheney, Washington. Here we see the Engine Module Supervisor burning vegetation that was previously thinned and piled. Photo credit: Ken Meinhart, USFWS.