PATEROS, Wash. - Chaos and devastation cover Washington's Methow Valley, as a wildfire jumped a ridge and flames burned into the town of Pateros. Homes and businesses are burning to the ground in the firestorm that is burning into the town of Brewster as well.
The fire, stemming from the Carlton Canyon fire, has been burning for several days. Around 6 p.m. Thursday night wind fanned the flames down a hillside and the flames came racing towards Pateros.
At 8 p.m. Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers ordered the evacuation of Pateros. As they left town, witnesses reported seeing businesses and homes on fire. The hospital in Brewster was evacuated as was the evacuation center set up by the Red Cross.
Rogers told the Associated Press at least 35 homes have burned in the county so far. An employee at a gas station in the area told KXLY4 that the post office, churches, the hardware store and the school in Pateros were on fire Thursday night.
Fire crews and emergency responders won't know exactly how widespread the damage is until daylight Friday morning. Chelan radio station KOZI reports witnesses saying the water tower in Pateros was on fire and that Mayor Libby Harrison and her mother lost their homes in the blaze.
Shelters are being set up at Chelan High School, along with locations in Omak and Bridgeport. Witnesses report long lines of cars, as evacuees filled up with gas on the way out of town.
Rogers has been a law enforcement officer in the county for 30 years and the sheriff for 12. He says this fire is the worst he's ever seen.