Deadly Okanogan Fire Passes State Record | KUOW News and Information

Deadly Okanogan Fire Passes State Record

Aug 24, 2015

The massive, deadly wildfire burning in Okanogan County has become the largest blaze in state history, a fire spokesman said Monday.

The lightning-caused Okanogan Complex of fires were measured overnight at just over 400 square miles. That's slightly more than last year's Carlton Complex blazes, which also were sparked by lightning and burned in Okanogan County.

"I'd like to set some different records," Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Monday.

Fire information officer Rick Isaacson said there is very little containment on the wildfire and it could burn until rain and snow season arrives.

"It's only Aug. 24th," Isaacson said. "In our district we could see this go clear to the first of November."

Last year's fires were grouped closer together and destroyed some 300 homes, Rogers said. This year, wildfires are burning across the large county and officials have no idea how many homes have burned.

Rogers noted that many of the fires are burning in heavily timbered areas on steep terrain. "There's no way to fight them," he said.

About 1,250 people are battling the Okanogan Complex, Isaacson said. Last week, three firefighters were killed and four injured when they were overtaken while trying to escape the flame.

About 70 fire managers from Australia and New Zealand arrived in Boise, Idaho, and were scheduled to receive protective gear Monday before heading out to fight fires burning in the West.

In Washington, resources were so strained that officials earlier took the unprecedented step of seeking volunteers to help fight the flames. Fire officials over the weekend began providing basic fire training to volunteers who have machinery like backhoes and bulldozers so they can help dig fire lines.

Sixteen large wildfires are burning across central and eastern Washington, covering more than 920 square miles. More than 200 homes have been destroyed, and more than 12,000 homes and thousands of other structures remain threatened.

Below is an interactive map put together by Joseph Elfelt of Redmond. Data is automatically uploaded from federal and private resources, and there may be delays in updates.

Open this map full screen.

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