LEAVENWORTH, Wash. -- A wildfire that started at an old log-storage site has prompted evacuation orders for 168 homes and cabins at a popular Washington state hiking and skiing destination, officials said Wednesday.
The fire was burning on about 40 acres Wednesday. It started Tuesday about 3 miles north of the tourist town of Leavenworth in an old timber storage area containing enormous cedar logs. Leavenworth is a gateway to Wenatchee National Forest where many people have getaway homes.
Deputy State Fire Marshal Melissa Gannie said the fire is threatening homes, timber and electrical infrastructure away from the downtown area, modeled in Bavarian village style.
Swirling wind conditions on Wednesday kept the firefighters working hard to contain sparks that could set other trees outside the fire zone ablaze, officials said.
"I'm not seeing any dramatic fire change or growth, but the wind is strong," Northwest Incident Management Team spokesman Brendan Cowan said. "It's still a challenging fire environment. It's far from being a fully contained fire."
Ross Frank, owner of Red-Tail Canyon Farm, said the fire was burning about a quarter mile (.40 kilometers) from his farm with draft horses and forest where weddings, barbeques and sleigh rides are held.
"It's our whole livelihood," Frank said. "Everything we do is right here on the ranch."
He was told to evacuate but stayed home because he is also a firefighter and spent 19 hours helping at the site.
He said he plans to stay and prepare his animals to leave if the winds shift the fire's path toward his property or if sparks start fires closer to his ranch.
"The wind has been gusting and swirling so much it's hard to tell where it's coming from, especially in canyon-country," he said. "I'm optimistic, but the wind will be the deciding factor."
Cowan said that there were no reports of injuries and that no structures had been damaged.
The Red Cross opened a shelter in Leavenworth where two people stayed Tuesday night, said Red Cross spokeswoman Christina Jones.