By Ann McCreary
Additional evacuation orders were issued Wednesday morning (July 16) for residents living in the path of approaching fires burning near Carlton.
Five houses on the north side of Gold Creek Road were placed on Level 3 evacuation, which means they need to leave immediately. The homes are threatened by the Golden Hike Fire, which was estimated at 30 acres Wednesday morning.
The fire had approached to within 100 yards of a home on Gold Creek Road, said Jacob McCann, public information officer for the fire management team, headquartered at Liberty Bell High School.
Four houses along Highway 153 between Stokes Road and Cow Creek Road were also placed under immediate evacuation orders Wednesday morning as the Stokes Road Fire moved down the hills toward the highway.
Evacuation orders remained in place for residents of seven homes on Texas Creek Road who were told to evacuate Tuesday (July 14) because of the approaching Stokes Road Fire.
Four fires started by a lightning storm Monday are being managed as the Carlton Complex, and a Type II Incident Management Team – an interagency team of federal, state and local entities – arrived Wednesday to manage the fire.
The Washington National Guard sent two helicopters and 14 personnel Wednesday to assist fire crews battling the Carlton Complex.
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen signed a proclamation Tuesday night declaring a state of emergency in 20 eastern Washington counties in response to multiple wildfires threatening several hundred homes, as well as businesses. The proclamation allows the activation and use of Washington National Guard and State Guard resources if needed.
Strike teams mobilized by the state Fire Marshal’s Office were protecting structures in the Methow Valley threatened by the growing fires, said McCann.
At least 25 structures are threatened, and more than 125 personnel are involved in fighting the fires, with additional firefighters and equipment arriving, McCann said.
McCann said the fires in the Carlton Complex include the Stokes Road Fire, which had grown from about 600 acres Tuesday to 1,500 acres Wednesday; the Golden Hike Fire, estimated at 30 acres; the French Creek Fire, 80 acres; and the Cougar Flat Fire, burning on a hillside southeast of Pearrygin Lake near Winthrop, and estimated at 30 acres.
Both Texas Creek Road and the Gold Creek Loup road are closed because of the fires. The Stokes Road Fire was expected to travel to Highway 153 today.
The fires are being fed by high heat, winds and extremely dry fuels, McCann said.
A community meeting was planned for Thursday evening, although the time and place are yet to be determined, McCann said.
Smoke from the fires hung over much of the Methow Valley on Wednesday and spread out toward Omak and Okanogan as well.
Temperatures were predicted to reach 100 degrees today, and remain in the mid-nineties on Thursday, dropping to 89 degrees Friday and in the low 80s during the weekend.