Washington has declared a state of emergency as nearly 50 fires ravage the state today. The emergency declaration allows for the National Guard and active duty military personnel to be called upon for assistance in fighting the blazes, and with an estimated 2,000 firefighters already engaged across the state, that assistance is looking more and more necessary. According to Governor Jay Inslee, the state is rapidly training 1,000 National Guard troops in Yakima for wildfire fighting. It’s the largest activation of the Guard since 1994.
The Carlton Complex Fire in North Central Washington has become the largest blaze in the state, with several fires merging into one area this week to form the complex. The fire has reached an estimated 202,000 square acres in size as of today, up from 18,000 on Thursday, and as of this evening is 0% contained.
“This, unfortunately, is not going to be a one-day or one-week event,” Governor Inslee said today at a press conference.
Hot weather and windy conditions pushed the fire over ridge tops and into the town of Pateros, WA, yesterday, resulting in a mandatory evacuation of all residents. 35 homes were lost over night, with an estimated 100 more today. No injuries were reported as the town was in a Level 3 evacuation state on Thursday, meaning conditions present an immediate threat to persons in the area, but that order has since been lifted. Many road closures are in still in effect and the fire has also severed power and telephone lines, making communication difficult for residents in the area.
Evacuations are expected to increase in Okanogan County as the fire situation continues to change rapidly. A Red Flag Warning has been issued for the area, with the current weather outlook showing a strong cold front bringing high winds and the potential for more extreme fire growth.
The Washington fires are having a larger affect across the Northwest, with air quality in Northern Idaho today being designated “unhealthy” by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Smoke from the flames has reached across northwest Montana and as far as Missoula.
““I know people have seen fires before. This is a different beast. This is a fire storm,” Governor Inslee said.
Up-to-date information on the Carlton Complex fire can be found at InciWeb. If you’re looking to help the many, many citizens displaced by the Washington fires, please visit King 5 News or KREM 2 News for more information.