— WA Dept of Ecology (@EcologyWA) July 22, 2014
President Barack Obama declared a federal state of emergency for Washington state, where the massive Carlton Complex fire has burned almost 400 square miles and continues to burn despite cooler temperatures and rain in the area.
The fire has already destroyed more than 150 homes — some reports say 200 — including almost the entire town of Pateros, one of many towns in the north-central Methow Valley affected by the fire.
The disaster declaration will open the door to Federal Emergency Management Agency aid and post-disaster funding, The Associated Press reported.
The Carlton Complex, which was ignited by lightning on July 14, has become the largest fire in Washington state history. Having burned more than 250,000 acres, it has surpassed the 1902 Yacolt Burn, which burned more than 238,000 acres and killed dozens of people.
The complex has claimed only one life — that of 67-year-old Rob Koczewski, who died of a heart attack while digging fireline around his home in Carlton.
Four fires make up the complex, which has been burning in severe drought and Red Flag Warning conditions. Hailstorms Wednesday over the fire brought some respite, but also the fear of more lightning strikes.