Officials urge evacuation for Okanogan area as fire rages; entire town of Tonasket still under notice

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A view of the Okanogan Complex Fire that forced the evacuation of an entire town in north-central Washington Tuesday night, Aug. 18, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Tom Randall)

OKANOGAN, Wash. (AP) — Emergency officials before dawn Friday called for the immediate evacuation of areas near the north-central Washington community of Okanogan as a wildfire raged.

The Okanogan County Emergency Management department sent out the orders around 2 a.m. PDT.

The department told The Associated Press that the orders were for parts of the northwest outskirts of town. The area was described as populated, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many people were affected.

The agency was urging area residents to stay alert for messages about the fire. The evacuation came hours after a similar order was issued for the area town of Tonasket, a community of about 1,000 people.

Officials have been warning that strong winds were complicating firefighting efforts.

Gov. Jay Inslee says more than 450 square miles were burning in the state this year, an increase from about 390 square miles last year.

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