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Cost of fighting Carlton Complex hits $60 million; 322 homes destroyed

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State resists feeding deer in wake of wildfires

State resists feeding deer in wake of wildfires

CARLTON — Despite pressure to feed deer that survived the Carlton Complex fires, wildlife officials say the best thing for Washington’s largest mule deer herd — at least for now — is to leave it alone.

Update, 2:15 p.m., Thursday: A Level 1 evacuation advisory has been issued for Twisp River Road from Elbow Coulee west to the U.S. Forest Service boundary because of the Little Bridge Creek fire.

Two fires ignited by lightning last weekend have grown large enough to be added to fire complexes in the region. The Alpine Fire is estimated at 5 to 10 acres about five miles west of Lake Wenatchee. It will become part of the Chiwaukum Complex. And the Virginia Ridge Fire, which has burned about three acres in the Wolf Creek drainage west of Winthrop is now part of the Carlton Complex. 

In addition, crews are working to control a 25-acre fire on Tillman Mountain about five miles east of Loomis in Okanogan County.

NCW — As firefighters close in on corralling the largest fire in state history, suppression costs have topped $60 million and the tally of homes destroyed is 322.

Fire officials hope to fully contain the Carlton Complex fire — which covers more than 400 square miles between Winthrop and Okanogan and down to northern Chelan County — by Aug. 15.

A fire spokesman provided the latest breakdown of structures destroyed in the fires: 322 homes, three multi-family housing complexes, one commercial property and 145 other buildings. The cost of fighting the fires has hit $61.1 million, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center.

Meanwhile, crews continue to fight uncontrolled fires across North Central Washington. Here’s the latest information on those fires:

Hansel (south of Peshastin), 700 acres: Grew about 170 acres on Wednesday but moved away from homes along the Blewett Pass corridor. Evacuations include 15 under Level 3 (get out now), 121 under Level 2 (get ready to leave) and numerous homes under a Level 1 advisory. Protection lines have been built between the fire and homes, and firefighters are doing structure protection work.

Duncan (Entiat Valley), 7,318 acres: Spread about 1,700 acres on Wednesday. Numerous homes along the Entiat River Road under evacuation advisories. “Duncan is kind of our bad boy right now,” said fire spokeswoman Mary Bean.

Chiwaukum (northwest of Leavenworth), 13,506 acres: Grew about a 100 acres near the wilderness boundary on Wednesday. About 100 people attended a community meeting Wednesday night to get an update from fire officials on the Chiwaukum Complex, which includes the Chiwaukum, Duncan and Hansel fires.

Shoofly (9 miles north of Stevens Pass Ski Area), 60 acres: Minimal growth on Wednesday.

Carlton (Okanogan County), 256,108 acres: 91 percent contained; crews are repairing containment lines and chipping trees and brush. An airplane is flying over the entire fire every two hours to check for hot spots. The fire camp at the Okanogan County Fairgrounds is moving to the camp at Liberty Bell High School.

Upper Falls (20 miles north of Winthrop), 4,500 acres: Fire burned down to the Falls Creek Road, where firefighters hope to hold it. East Chewuch Road remains under a Level 1 evacuation advisory.

Little Bridge Creek (west of Twisp), 1,500 acres: Crews are building lines far from the edge of the remote, inaccessible fire and are preparing to do “significant burning operations” to stop the fire’s spread toward populated areas, said fire spokesman Chuck Turley. The burnouts will likely start this weekend. A community meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at the Twisp Community Center to explain the burnout strategy. The fire is not an immediate threat to people, but “it looks much closer than it really is, especially to people on Twisp River Road,” Turley said.

Lone Mountain 1 (3 miles northeast of Stehekin), 2,389 acres.

Reach Michelle McNiel at 509-664-7152 or . Follow her on Twitter at @MichelMcNielWW.

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