Methow Valley homes evacuated for wildfire

The Olympian


MAZAMA -- Officials began evacuating Methow Valley homes closest to a 15,000-acre wildfire Sunday.
Dale Warriner, a spokesman for the state's incident management team on the Needle Creek fire, said the evacuation was ordered when the fire reached a predetermined spot about two miles from the nearest structure early in the afternoon.

"It's better to err on the side of caution and give people ample time to do an orderly evacuation," Warriner said. "It's kind of creeping up over the ridge."

Warriner said occupants of about 75 buildings closest to the blaze would be asked to leave. But he said there was no imminent threat that the main part of the fire would reach the structures uncontrolled.

More than half of the residences in the north central Washington valley are summer homes.

The fire has roughly doubled in size in 24 hours, but much of the growth has been away from roughly 250 structures threatened by the fire.

A cold front that moved through early Sunday morning brought no rain and intermittent winds. While other weather systems moving in are raising hopes for firefighters elsewhere, Warriner said there's no real hope for relief in sight for the Needle Creek crews.

"If we're looking for a big rain, we're not going to get it," Warriner said. "It's a little cooler, which is nice, helpful, but it's not something that's going to stop this fire."

About 450 firefighters were working the blaze, many of them trimming trees and pulling firewood away from homes.

Lightning started the fire Aug. 5, but it remained at about 20 acres until hot weather moved into the area last weekend. It had grown to 3,000 acres by Thursday and was 7,000 acres Saturday.


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