Wenatchee firefighters are fighting a fast-growing wildfire that has threatened as many as 70 buildings.
A fast-moving wildfire fueled by high temperatures has grown to more than 1,800 acres, burned a dozen structures and was threatening as many as 70 more buildings in Wenatchee. More than 1,000 people have fled their homes.
The Sleepy Hollow Fire “is a very quickly-spreading fire,” said chief deputy state fire marshal Bill Slosson, who described the area as a “pretty dense urban interface area.”
The blaze sparked Sunday afternoon was burning out of control 12 hours later, said Rich Magnussen, a spokesman for the Chelan County Emergency Management office.
Evacuations were mainly in the north end of town, and included a Walmart store.
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Firefighters from around the region were on the scene and more headed there. “Hundreds of them (firefighters), and fire resources from all over Eastern Washington,” he said.
Sunday’s temperatures of at least 108 degrees, tinder dry brush and strong winds helped fuel the fire.
“The wind really picked up in the afternoon,” Magnussen said, adding Monday’s forecast calls for more of the same.
Reports Sunday night said the fire had burned 2.6 square miles of territory. Magnussen said it had grown since then but officials won’t know by how much until Monday.
There have been no reports of serious injury.
Some homeowners were told to get ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice by Chelan County Emergency Management. The Red Cross set up an evacuation shelter at an area high school.
The fire had also spread to commercial properties on Wenatchee Avenue, and was being fanned by a brisk wind, said Slosson, who is with the Washington State Patrol. There were also reports that numerous outbuildings — barns and sheds — had been destroyed, he said.
In response to the fire, a mobilization of statewide firefighting resources was issued by Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste. Several helicopters were used to drop fire retardant on the fire before darkness fell.
Slosson said about 200 firefighters were on the scene Sunday night, including firefighters from around Chelan County as well as some from Grant, Pierce and Snohomish counties, the U.S. Forest Service, the state Department of Natural Resources and the federal Bureau of Land Management.
“The challenge is, everybody’s got a high fire danger,” Slosson said.
Fire chiefs in neighboring districts are reluctant to stretch their own resources too thin in case a fire breaks out closer to home, he said.
The fire started around 2:30 p.m., and its cause is not yet known.
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.