August 14, 2012 in Region

Central Washington wildfire burns dozens of homes

Associated Press
 
Associated Press/Jordan Stead/The Seattle Times photo

John Shea leans into a gate, exhausted, as a forest fire consumes the grounds around a friend’s ranch Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, near Cle Elum, Wash. Shea heard the news, knew his friend was at work, and rushed over to his home to rescue livestock.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

CLE ELUM, Wash. — A fast-moving wildfire burned 60 homes across about 40 square miles of central Washington grassland, timber and sagebrush.

Fire commanders estimated tpday the blaze has burned at least 26,000 acres since it started Monday afternoon east of the town of Cle Elum.

So far, no injuries have been reported but hundreds of people have been evacuated.

The fire crept within six miles of Ellensburg, about 75 miles east of Seattle. The fire is not contained. State officials dispatched additional firefighters and equipment to the blaze from around the state.

The Kittitas County sheriff’s office warned those in the fire’s path to evacuate. Few people took advantage of an emergency shelter in Cle Elum.

The fire also threatened a chimpanzee sanctuary, a television station reported. It burned some property but the chimps were OK, Diana Goodrich of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest told the station.

The state Transportation Department said a 14-mile section of U.S. Highway 97 was closed because of the fire.

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