Washington wildfire destroys structures, forces evacuations

Wildfire smoke

A wildfire fueled by high temps and strong winds roared into a central Washington neighborhood, forcing more than a thousand people to flee their homes and destroying a dozen structures, authorities said early Monday.

The blaze sparked Sunday afternoon was still burning out of control 12 hours later, said Rich Magnussen, a spokesman for the Chelan County Emergency Management office.

At least a thousand people have left their homes in Wenatchee, about 120 miles east of Seattle.

“We’ve got hundreds of homes under evacuation notices,” he said.

The office said the evacuations were mainly in the north end of town, and included a Walmart store.

So far, at least a dozen structures — mainly houses — have been destroyed.

“It’s probably going to turn out to be more than that,” he said.

Firefighters from around the region were on the scene and more headed there.

“Hundreds of them (firefighters), and fire resources from all over eastern Washington,” he said.

Sunday’s temperatures of at least 108 degrees, tinder dry brush and strong winds helped fuel the fire.

“The wind really picked up in the afternoon,” he said, adding Monday’s forecast calls for more of the same.

Reports Sunday night said the fire had burned 2.6 square miles of territory. Magnussen said it had grown since then but officials won’t know by how much until daylight.

There have been no reports of serious injury.

Magnussen said officials know the fire started in the brush on the edge of town but they are still trying to determine what sparked it.

Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste authorized the mobilization of state firefighting resources in battling the blaze, dubbed the Sleepy Hollow Fire.

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