Small town in Washington State evacuated because of fire

Hot dry weather in Pacific Northwest fuels wildfires.
By Frances Burns  |  July 18, 2014 at 4:59 PM
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SEATTLE, July 18 (UPI) -- An entire town in central Washington State was evacuated as a wildfire exploded in size.

Residents of Pateros who had taken refuge with the Red Cross had to make a second evacuation when the shelter was threatened by the Carlton Complex fire. About 80 people spent Thursday night in a shelter in Chelan, while others stayed in campers and RVs in the parking lot.

Pateros, with just over 600 residents, is on the Columbia River in north-central Washington. Roads into the town remained closed because of the fire, which has charred thousands of acres in the Methow Valley.

"They'll be waiting to see when they're allowed back to assess what's going on at their homes, in their town," Megan Snow, a Red Cross spokeswoman, told Northwest Public Radio. "Especially for a town of that size, we're talking about a huge percentage of the population who's going to basically have to start over."

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group reported the Carlton Complex, which began Monday as four individual fires caused by lightning, had spread to almost 170,000 acres Friday.

Washington, Oregon and California have been hit by hundreds of wildfires in recent weeks because of a prolonged drought and unusually hot weather. Most of Washington and Oregon remained under a Red Flag warning Friday with severe fire danger because of the combination of heat, high winds and dry conditions.

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