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Carlton fire making afternoon run, new round of evacuations underway

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Update, 7:40 p.m.: A new fire in far north Okanogan County has resulted in a new round of evacuation notices. From the Carlton Complex fire bosses: 

7/21/14 6:15 p.m. New Fire and Evacuations near Tonasket, WA

  A new fire, the Bugg Road Fire started this afternoon east of Tonasket, Washington.  The fire is estimated to be 1,000 acres with rapid rates of spread.  The Okanogan County Sheriff has issued a Level 3 (Immediate) Evacuation order for Siwash Road at North Siwash Road and Oberg Road.  A Type 3 Incident Management Team has been ordered.


Update, 5:40 p.m.: Fire bosses say Carlton is under Evacuation Level 2, which means they need to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. From the Carlton Complex Twitter feed: Carlton Complex ‏@CarltonComplex  11m

We have confirmed that Carlton is at level 2 evacuation according to County Officials. #CarltonComplex


Update, 5 p.m.: Fire bosses are continuing to urge Carlton residents to leave. From the fire managers’ Twitter account: “URGENT NOTICE- Town Of Carlton under Evacuation Level 3 Immediate threats to the life and safety. EVACUATE NOW!”  Official site:

Update, 3:45 p.m.: The Carlton Complex fire is making a run to the northeast this afternoon, prompting a new round of Level 3 (get out now) evacuations north of Highway 20. Evacuations are also underway in the Carlton area in another area of the massive fire.

Highway 20 between Twisp and Okanogan is closed again.

Residents of Pleasant Valley, North Cook Mountain Road, Rock Creek, Buzzard Lake, Leader Lake, Alpine Lake, and White Rock Road and being told to leave.

The fire is also being problematic in the Libby Creek area, resulting in new evacuation orders in the Carlton area.

Update, 3:20 p.m.: Three “Super Scooper” airplanes are now scooping water out of Lake Chelan to drop water on the southern end of the Carlton Complex fires. A national fire management team out of California is now overseeing the portion of the fire burning in northern Chelan County and southern Okanogan County. They were working Monday to create an “anchor point” in Antoine Creek, building fire lines to keep it from crossing Antoine Creek Road, said fire spokeswoman Trisha Maki.

The fire is burning actively in Antoine Creek and Black Canyon, she said, but it has made no major runs or burned any structures in the area.

The national team has set up a fire camp at Chelan Falls Park for crews working on the southern portion of the fire.

Update, 9:15 a.m.: A third national fire management team from California was setting up today to take over the southern portion of the Carlton Complex, where the fire is still actively burning and growing.

That flank of the fire was still short on firefighters and other resources needed to begin work on fire lines, said fire spokeswoman Joni Quarnstrom. But more resources were expected to arrive today.

Fire crews were able to do a burnout in Antoine Creek on Sunday. Once they secure and expand lines there, they will move on to Black Canyon, she said.

Quarnstrom said the national Type 1 team was called in because there is still a threat that the fire could burn over Chelan Ridge and into the Lake Chelan valley. 

WINTHROP — With an influx of new firefighting resources and a favorable change in the weather, crews battling the sprawling Carlton Complex are finally starting to tally small victories.

After days of defensive actions, working to protect cities and rural communities from more destruction, they were able to go on the offensive Sunday and secure 2 percent containment of the miles-long fire perimeter.

They counted as “good news” that the fire only grew by 5,000 acres on Sunday, compared to the voracious growth of the previous few days.

And while a more thorough check of burned areas has increased the number of homes destroyed to 150, no additional homes have been lost in the last 24 hours.

There’s lots of good news to get out there this morning,” said fire spokeswoman Alyse Cadez.

The complex of fires burning from Winthrop to Okanogan and south to Chelan has grown to 243,000 acres.

National-level fire management teams that arrived over the weekend brought additional crews and helicopters on Sunday. About 1,600 firefighters and 11 helicopters are now assigned to the blaze.

Fire spokesman Richard Hadley said fire officials have a plan to fight back against the fire and will begin aggressively building fire lines today.

We’re trying to get everything buttoned up as much as we can here in the next 24 hours,” he said. With thunderstorms expected later in the week, “We figure we have until late Tuesday into Wednesday, we have this window of opportunity to get a lot of work done.”

The 2-percent containment was achieved on the eastern flank of the fire between Brewster and Malott. Today, crews working on upper portions of the fire will focus on keeping the blaze away from Highway 20, Hadley said. Federal Hot Shot crews will work in the steep canyons to build fire lines while dozers scrape lines in easier terrain.

We’re trying to go more direct with it,” he said. “Higher humidities and no wind allows us to be more aggressive in terms of getting in line.”


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