24 homes, 4 businesses burn as Chelan County wildfire tears through thousands of acres

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WENATCHEE, Wash. -- Officials said a brief rainstorm blowing through Wenatchee Monday morning brought some help to crews fighting devastating fires that had burned at least two dozen homes and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate.

The Sleepy Hollow Fire began Sunday afternoon outside of Wenatchee and burned within the city limits late Sunday night, Rich Magnussen with the Chelan County Sheriff's Office said.

On Monday morning, more than 150 evacuees had checked into the Red Cross Shelter at Eastmont High School at 955 3rd Street NE in East Wenatchee.

Twenty-four homes, four businesses, and several outbuildings were burned in the fire, and embers ignited at least two warehouses near downtown.

Hundreds of displaced residents also had to take shelter at hotels or other homes.

No major injuries were reported, yet several firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and heat-related injuries, officials said.

Fire crews said while homes were lost Sunday night, firefighters managed to steer the fire around a housing division. For the homes that were damaged, the fire appeared to jump from roof to roof.

Latest evacuation information from Chelan County:

Another fire in the area, known as the Bluebird Fire, forced several Level 3 evacuations.

Brief rainstorms in the area helped firefighters battle the blaze which had grown to more than 3,000 acres Monday. Though the rain was short-lived, it seemed to dampen the flames and slow the fire's progress. The rain was not expected to last, however, as humidity was forecasted to drop to around 10 percent by the afternoon.

The National Weather Service said thunderstorms were possible in the Wenatchee area heading into Monday evening, and severe weather was likely across other parts of Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

According to the Wenatchee World, businesses and homes in the Wenatchee Valley were encouraged to restrict their water use to consumption use only.

The fire compromised air quality in the area, officials said, causing unhealthy levels.

Crews and trucks from Chelan and Douglas County fire districts, as well as Seattle,Pierce County, Olympia, Spokane and others responding, and at least one helicopter was dropping water on the fire by 5 p.m. Officials said they were concerned crews were being spread thin, battling multiple fires.

Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation, saying the state was under extreme wildfire risk.

"The fire danger now is unlike any we've seen in a long time, if ever," he said. "We need to be prepared for the possibility of an unprecedented fire season."

On Monday, Inslee released another statement, saying his thoughts and prayers are with the people of Wenatchee.

"Yet again, our state is experiencing a catastrophic wildfire that has displaced families and shut down businesses," he said.

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