Power to be restored to much of fire-ravaged Methow Valley

Power to be restored to much of fire-ravaged Methow Valley
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, stands with Rep. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, second from right, next at the site of a home that was destroyed by wildfires near the Alta Lake Golf Course in Pateros, Wash.
TWISP, Wash. (AP) - Officials say they plan to restore power to much of the wildfire-ravaged Methow Valley on Friday.

The Okanogan Public Utility District says it plans to re-energize its substation in Twisp on Friday afternoon. The Okanogan County Electric Co-operative also said that it will restore power to most of its service area, with the exception of damaged areas of Beaver Creek, Loup Loup and Finley Canyon.

Thousands of people in the scenic valley about 180 miles northeast of Seattle have been without power since the Carlton Complex of fires burned utility lines a little more than a week ago. The complex is the largest fire recorded in state history, and has destroyed about 150 homes in north-central Washington.

The fire is a little more than half contained, and crews have made good progress in the last two days thanks to cooler weather and rain. Firefighters were attacking the perimeter of the fire Thursday.

"We are able to go direct, and we are doing that while we have the opportunity," said fire spokesman Pete Buist.

Buist said earlier in the week they could not get close to the perimeter because of high temperatures and strong winds.

However, the weather is forecast to get hot and dry over the next few days.

The Carlton Complex of fires remained at nearly 400 square miles, or 250,489 acres on Thursday. It is being fought by about 2,500 people.

Two other major fires are burning in north-central Washington.

The Chiwaukum Complex near Leavenworth has burned 12,225 acres, is 10 percent contained, and has 1,000 firefighters on the scene.

The Mills Canyon fire remains at 22,571 acres and is 90 percent contained.

The Washington National Guard is helping fight the fires with four Blackhawk helicopters based at the Omak airport and two Chinook helicopters in Leavenworth, said Major Rebeccah Martinazzi.

The guard has dropped about 650,000 gallons of water on the Carlton Complex since it started, said Capt. Joseph Siemandel on Thursday.

"This fire is a lot more wild than the fires we've been over before," said National Guard Sgt. Mark Logan. "This one's very unpredictable."

The Carlton Complex is blamed for one death after a man died of a heart attack while hauling water and digging a fire line to protect his home.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in Washington because of the fires. The declaration authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to coordinate disaster relief and help state and local agencies with equipment and resources.

The Carlton Complex is larger than the 1902 Yacolt Burn, which consumed 238,920 acres in southwestern Washington and was the state's largest recorded forest fire, according to HistoryLink.org, an online resource of Washington state history.