TWISP, Wash. - A wildfire in north-central Washington has burned six to eight homes between Twisp and Winthrop, where residents desperately tried to keep the flames from their homes before firefighters arrived, officials said Saturday.
Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said a new lightning storm on Saturday knocked down trees and was causing more problems in the already stressed community.
Downed trees were blocking Highway 20, which was reopened Saturday morning after the Rising Eagle Fire calmed down overnight, Rogers said.
The Methow Valley wildfire near the much larger Carlton Complex of fires has grown to between 400 and 600 acres, fire spokesman Andy Lyon said.
The Carlton Complex has burned an area of about 395 square miles and destroyed about 300 homes. As of Saturday morning, it was 81 percent contained.
About 200 homes are under an evacuation order from the Rising Eagle Road Fire burning in a wooded area with homes scattered throughout.
During a morning walk near the fire perimeter, Lyon saw damaged and destroyed homes, but he said he did not know the exact number of buildings affected.
Firefighters were concentrating on protecting homes. There were dramatic rescues of homes overnight, Lyon said.
The homes in danger are scattered among the trees along country roads. Some residents battled the flames before the state Department of Natural Resources and local fire crews arrived, Lyon said.
Some great saves were made. Unfortunately, not all the homes were saved, he said.
Forecasters were predicting more dry lighting and some possible showers in the area on Saturday.
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Although the forecasters weren't expecting enough rain to help firefighting efforts, there was a possibility of isolated downpours that could cause debris flows similar to flash floods, Lyon said.
There are no plants holding the soil in place anymore, he said. A moderate amount of rain in a short amount of time could cause a burned-out mountainside to turn into a mudslide, Lyon added.
The fire started around 2:30 p.m. Friday west of Highway 20, which was closed for much of the day.
The following list summarizes the evacuations and closures as of 8 p.m. Friday:
Twin Lakes Road to Wolf Creek Road
Sun Mountain Resort
Pearrygin lake State Park is under evacuation and closed at least through the weekend.
Upper Bear Creek Road
East Chewuch Road to Boulder Creek
Highway 20 from Twin Lakes Road to Winthrop
Highway 20 is open to LOCAL RESIDENTS OLY from Twisp to Winthrop
A forest Closure Order is currently being written for the area north of the Carlton Complex
Two shelters have been established at the Community Center in Twisp and the Community Church in Mazama
Fire officials said the new wildfire is between 200 and 300 acres and has now been added to the Carlton Complex. Aircraft and other resources used to fight the Carlton Complex are being diverted to help crews fight the new fire.
The American Red Cross has opened two evacuation centers in the Methow Valley Community Center, 201 S. Methow Valley Highway, in Twisp, and the Mazama Community Church, 18202 Highway 20, in Mazama.