Download the Q13 News weather app here

Fast-moving wildfires in Chelan burn structures, force hundreds to evacuate (VIDEOS)

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Wildfire threatening parts of Chelan, Wash. (Photo: Rose Olcott/GoLakeChelan)

Wildfire threatening parts of Chelan, Wash. (Photo: Rose Olcott/GoLakeChelan)

 

UPDATE: The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said up to 100 structures may have burned, but so far no injuries have been reported. Fire crews do not have definite numbers on acreage burned, and containment numbers have not been determined.

FEMA has authorized federal funds to help cover firefighting costs, saying, “the fire threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster.”

As of 7:45 p.m. Saturday, Red Cross shelters were open at the following locations:

  • Entiat Valley Community Resource Center (2084 Entiat Way, Entiat, WA)
  • Sterling Intermediate School (600 N. James, East Wenatchee, WA)
  • Brewster High School (503 S. 7th, Brewster, WA)
  • Gess Elementary School (405 E. Lincoln Way, Chewelah, WA)
  • Columbia School (4961b Hunters Shop Rd., Hunters, WA)
  • Republic Elementary School (30306 Hwy 20 E, Republic, WA)

COLVILLE, Wash. (AP) — Hundreds of people were evacuated Friday from the central Washington city of Chelan as lightning-sparked wildfires advanced and flames and smoke were visible from downtown.

The Chelan Wal-Mart was among the locations under a mandatory evacuation order. The Red Cross set up an evacuation center at Chelan Elementary School.

The U.S. Forest Service said state fire assistance was mobilized for what is being called the Reach Fire Complex. Officials said the three fires that make up this "complex" was originally reported as 200 acres. But the fires have grown quickly, fueled by high winds.

A total of 250 homes were threatened, and and unknown number of structures burned, the Forest Service said.

More than 9,000 customers were without power due to the fires, Chelan County PUD tweeted late Friday night.

The Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce said evacuations occurred around the shore of Lake Chelan. The downtown business core was not in danger, the chamber said.

About 150 to 200 people were evacuated from the south shore of the lake, it said.

Four wildfires burned in the Chelan Butte Area overnight, as a result of a lightning storm that crossed over a ridge and continued through the Chelan and Okanogan valleys, officials said. The fires were small at first, but grew.

All homes and apartments behind the Chelan High School in the 200 block of Webster Avenue were evacuated just after 2 p.m. Other buildings were evacuated a short time later.

A Q13 FOX viewer sent in multiple videos of crews trying to put out the fire.

The fires near Chelan were some of the many blazes crews were battling throughout Washington as windy and hot conditions made areas tinder-dry. Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Janet Pierce says most of the state is under a red-flag warning.

One blaze near Cougar Creek, near the Yakima Indian Reservation, had burned 28 square miles and had zero percent containment. The state on Friday requested help from the National Guard to fight that fire.

A blaze burning northeast of Colville had scorched almost 5 square miles and was only 3 percent contained. Campgrounds in the area were under evacuation orders.

And a wildfire in a rugged area of northern Washington state chased hundreds of people from their homes and burned 10 to 12 structures.