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Update: Crews make good progress on Carlton Complex

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Sunday Evening update: 

Crews made good progress today building a fire line along the fire’s western flank near Twisp, fire spokesman Paul Gibbs said this afternoon.

Over the next few days area residents may see increased smoke and fire near Pearrygin Lake.

Aerial ignition might be used in the the Pearrygin Lake area over the next few days to connect an approximately 130-acre fire to the north with the main fire, fire officials said in a statement on the Internet. This would create more smoke and fire activity in the area, but it’s a controlled part of the suppression effort, they say.

Evacuation levels and road closures remain unchanged. Highway 20 between Twisp and Okanogan could reopen later this evening for the first time since Thursday, Gibbs said.

The lightning-caused fire was reported 2-percent contained this evening. If mild winds, cooler weather and higher humidity hold, more containment should be achieved overnight, fire spokesman Richard Hadley said this evening. Current fire personnel totals 1,622.

About mid week stormy weather is expected with higher winds and thunder storms, Hadley said. Crews are hoping the storm will bring more rain that previous storms have.

Through better aerial infrared mapping today, the fire is now reported at 237,890 acres, Hadley said. That’s down from 299,897 reported this morning. 

No new structures have burned.

Saturday evening a bulldozer accidently rolled off a steep fireline on the southeastern part of the fire. The dozer operator had only minor injuries, fire officials said in a statement.

Gov. Jay Inslee was to have visited the fire today, but fire officials said he ran out of time and couldn’t make it.

Communications by telephone and cell phone remain sporadic. The complex is now divided into three sectors with separate national-level management teams — one in Winthrop, one in Omak, and one setting up this evening in Chelan.

Update: Twisp has been reduced to a Level 1 evacuation. Brewster’s Level 1 evac level has been lifted.

Update: Gov. Jay Inslee will visit the fire zone today around 4:30 p.m., according to Okanogan Sheriff’s Office officials.The governor said in a state Department of Natural Resources press release Friday that 100 National Guard troopUs are working the fire and as many as 1,000 more will come in the following days as they complete wildfire training.

Update: As of noon, current evacuation levels for the Carlton Complex are as follows: Antoine Creek between the Chelan County border and Pateros, Level 3; Alta Lake, Level 3; Union Valley, Level 2, Twisp, Level 2; Pateros, Level 2; Brewster, Level 1; Malott, Level 2. Omak and Okanogan are not under evacuation notice. Level 3 means “Get out now.” Level 2 means be ready to go. Level 1 is be aware that fire is in the area.

WINTHROP — The lighting-caused Carlton Complex fire grew to 299,897 acres overnight as three national fire-management teams organize to battle the monster from three flanks — Chelan, Omak and Winthrop.

 One death has been reported, someone who died of a heart attack, but more information wasn’t available this morning. Two firefighters have been treated for non-life threatening injuries — an injured knee and a face laceration.

 The massive fire’s footprint spreads northwest in two prongs that come together to the east near Highway 97. The upper prong extends north, almost to Pearrygin Lake State Park, which is closed due to fire danger. The lower prong covers the Methow Valley and approaches the town of Carlton.

Some 1,000 structures are still thought to be threatened within the fire’s large perimeter, which is devouring grass and scrub. Fire officials couldn’t identify the threatened structures specifically.

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning that progress appears to have been made holding the fire in the Antoine Creek area, as it crosses from Okanogan into Chelan counties.

Personnel on the fire has roughly doubled to 1,388, as crews have come in from across the country. The Carlton Complex this morning was rated the country’s third highest-priority fire, giving it better access to limited firefighting resources.

Equipment on the fire includes 150 engines, 13 bulldozers, 11 helicopters. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has assigned 100 members of the National Guard to the fire. The governor may visit the region again today, officials say.

Cooler, more humid temperatures with calmer winds are expected to aid firefighters in the coming days, fire spokesman Andres Sandri said this morning.

Getting consistent information about the massive Carlton Complex fire in Okanogan County continues to be a challenge. Telephone and cell phone service remains sporadic.

Chelan County Sheriff’s deputies say they’ve had several reports of illegal fireworks and outdoor burns. Violators are subject to a $180 fine. Chelan County commissioners have ordered a county-wide burn ban.

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