Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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July 18, 2014

Massive wildfire burns homes near Spokane, leads to evacuations

SPOKANE, Wash. — 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.

"Mother Nature is winning here," Don Waller, chief of Okanogan County Fire District 6, told The Wenatchee World.

Officials say no injuries have been reported.

Authorities say the wildfire has already burned about 100 homes and prompted the evacuation of the small town of Pateros, home to about 650 people in Okanogan County. A hospital in nearby Brewster was also evacuated as a precaution.

"There's nobody in Pateros" except a few "stragglers" who stayed, Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said, adding the fire was burning in the town, although the small business district was believed intact.

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 of about 40,000 people.

"Two of my people lost their homes," Rogers said.

Rogers said the fire had jumped U.S. Highway 97 between Brewster and Pateros and was burning along the Columbia. Sections of several highways were closed in the county.

Early Friday, the Okanogan County Sheriff's dispatch office said the roughly 300 residents of the Chiliwist Valley, about 15 miles north of Pateros, evacuated late Thursday night.

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.

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