Wildfires Force Evacuation Of Towns, Hospital In Washington State

July 18, 2014

This post was updated at 2 p.m. ET:

The small town of Pateros in north-central Washington has emptied out as wildfires burning in the area destroyed as many as 100 homes.

The roughly 650 residents of Pateros — as well as a nearby hospital — were evacuated late Thursday.

The Carlton Complex wildfires had burned 260 square miles by Friday morning — a dramatic increase from the 28 square miles estimated Thursday night.

“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,” The Associated Press reports.

Various wildfires are currently plaguing several Western states, as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia. With 20 major fires burning in Oregon and Washington, authorities are calling for help from other states.

“We don’t have anything available anymore,” Carol Connolly, a spokeswoman for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, told the Portland Oregonian. “We’re out of hot shot crews, we’re out of initial attack crews, we’re at a drawdown for incident management teams.”

Okanogan Sheriff Frank Rogers told The AP that he’d heard of no injuries from any of the four wildfires in the Pateros area.

“The whole town was evacuated,” Rogers said. “It was a chaotic mess but we got everybody on the highway.”

You can see a small gallery of dramatic photos here.

“Last night, it really looked like the cauldron of hell,” resident Tim Germaine told KCPQ, the Fox affiliate in Tacoma. “You can see flames everywhere you look.”

Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster was closed and residents in parts of the town were asked to evacuate. Several highways in the area have been closed, according to local news reports.

“The whole area was ablaze,” Keith Roe, whose home burned outside of Twisp, told KCPQ. “I knew it was gone. I went up there today and it was gone, all gone.”

As we reported yesterday, the Chiwaukum Creek Fire in central Washington led to a large-scale evacuation order, with residents of 860 homes told to leave immediately and another 800 homes under less immediate threat.

Residents of 860 homes were told they should leave immediately. Another 800 homes were less seriously threatened.

“Several highways have been closed and homes evacuated near the central Washington city of Leavenworth,” which is about 100 miles east of Seattle, member station KUOW reports.

Conditions are poor for firefighting. Temperatures are expected to reach into the 90s on Friday, with continuing gusting winds. KUOW reporter Chris Lehman says that temperatures should cool in the region this weekend.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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