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Sun Mountain, Twin Lakes evacuate for new fire

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WINTHROP — A new wildfire between Twisp and Winthrop  on Friday afternoon destroyed at least two homes, knocked out power to hundreds of homes, and elicited fears that the remaining unburned areas of the Methow Valley could burn.

Dozens of residents evacuated in the Twin Lakes and Elbow Coulee area, and along Highway 20 between Twisp and Winthrop.

Sun Mountain Lodge and cabins at Patterson Lake were among those evacuated, largely because there’s only one way in and out of the world-class resort, said Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers.

It was just like Thursday night,” Rogers said of the July 17 fire that swept into Pateros and took an entire city block. This time, firefighters apparently got a handle on the blaze before it reached Winthrop, he said.

Rogers said that as of 6 p.m., it appeared the immediate danger had passed. He said the fire started near Signal Hill Road when a car and trailer pulled off the road. “It sounds like they got a flat, and it heated up,” he said.

Highway 20 closed to traffic between Twisp and Winthrop Friday evening, but reopened early Saturday morning. 

Rogers said air tankers and helicopters helped corral the fast-moving fire, which spread some four miles within a couple of hours. “The air support was fantastic,” he said.

He said he and his wife, Minnette, were at the fire camp at nearby Liberty Bell High School when the fire erupted. They advised numerous residents in the Twin Lakes area to evacuate, including one where the owners were not home, but a couple of dogs were inside.

Reach K.C. Mehaffey at 509-997-2512 or . Read her blog An Apple a Day or follow her on Twitter at @KCMehaffeyWW.