Emergency officials reported on Saturday that a wildfire that continues to rage through Washington state east of the Cascade Mountains has destroyed over 100 homes and has left thousands in the area without electricity. The fire has been burning for six days, officials say, and hundreds have been evacuated.
A report in Reuters reveals that there have been no series injuries so far, though at least ten people are still being searched for by authorities since family and friends have not heard from them in the days since the blaze began. Cell service in the area has been intermittent.
The fire began after a cluster of lightning fires merged into a "conflagration dubbed the Carlton Complex" and has resulted in the scorching of "at least 336 square miles (870 sq km) of dry timber and grasslands in north-central Washington since Monday, officials said."
An estimated 100 homes in Pateros were destroyed by the fire, most of them on Thursday, as flames roared into the town of 650 residents, prompting evacuation of the entire community.
Although the immediate threat subsided on Friday as the flames changed course, residents of Pateros were advised to keep their distance for the time being, officials said.
The above image shows a plane dropping fire retardant on one section of the wildfire. Officials are hopeful that a forthcoming simultaneous cooling trend and a rise in humidity will help them to get the fire under control.
Gov. Jay Inslee said about 50 fires were burning in Washington, which has been wracked by hot, dry weather, gusting winds and lightning. Some 2,000 firefighters were working in the eastern part of the state, with about a dozen helicopters from the Department of Natural Resources and the National Guard, along with a Washington State Patrol spotter plane.
Karina Shagren, spokeswoman for the state's Military Department, said 100 National Guard troops were on standby, and up to 1,000 more in Yakima could receive additional fire training. Active duty military could be called in as well, Inslee said.
Wildfires are also raging through Oregon. As a result, both governors of Washington and Oregon declared fire emergencies earlier this week.
[Images via AP]