Massive Okanogan wildfire now largest in state history

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TWISP, Wash. -- The massive fire burning in north-central Washington is now the largest in state history.

The Okanogan Complex of wildfires has surpassed last year's Carlton Complex blazes.

Fire spokesman Rick Isaacson said Monday the Okanogan Complex was measured overnight at just over 400 square miles, slightly more than the Carlton fires, which also burned in Okanogan County. The latest group of fires grew by more than 26 square miles Sunday and is expected to spread even more in coming days.

Take a virtual "fly through" of the Washington state fires:

Isaacson called the record unfortunate and notes it's only Aug. 24, meaning the fire could burn for several more months. Officials are still trying to determine how many homes and other structures have been burned.

About 1,250 people are battling the fires. Last week, three firefighters were killed and four injured near Twisp.

Fire officials in Washington state say smoke is lifting over the wildfires, meaning good news for those with sensitive breathing issues. Spokeswoman Suzanne Flory says visibility has improved and so has air quality, but so far fire activity has not heated up.

Flory says smoke often works as a cap on fire activity and when it lifts, the humidity goes down, temperatures go up and often fire activity increases.

Smoke from the wildfires infiltrated Western Washington Saturday and Sunday, but has since begun to clear.

Meanwhile, officials say the three firefighters are recuperating at home after being released from the hospital. A fourth injured firefighter is being treated at a hospital in Seattle.

As many as 16 fires burned around the state. On Monday, a fire in the North Cascades National Park had grown to nearly 4,400 acres, and was zero percent contained.

Fires near Lake Chelan, including the First Creek Fire, the Chelan Complex Fire and the Woleverine Fire have grown to a combined 144,000 acres in size. Nearly 1,000 residents are still under Level 3 evacuations in the greater Chelan area as 1,124 firefighters battle the blazes.

The North Star Fire in the Aeneas Valley has grown to 147,000 acres, and is only three percent contained. A Red Flag Warning near the town of Nespelem, Washington remains in effect until 9 p.m. Monday.

A new firefighting mobilization center is being set up at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane to help fight wildfires in Washington state. The base will be the staging area for 20 large fire engines and 10 water takers and will be run by a team from San Diego, California.

For more on the wildfires, click here.