Many of the more than 1,600 firefighters battling the massive Carlton Complex wildfire that has scorched more than 300 square miles of the scenic Methow Valley will focus their efforts Monday on containment south of Twisp.
Officials warned Monday that residents near the north side of the fire, which had burned more than 240,000 acres at last check Sunday night, might see smoke rising as they work to construct a fire line east of Highway 153 between Carlton, Wash., and Twisp. Firefighters hope favorable weather conditions will help ease the spread of the fire, which erupted late last week and destroyed numerous homes in the small town of Pateros on the banks of the Columbia River.
The Seattle Times is reporting that the Carlton Complex fire has become the largest in state history.
Utilities continue to be an issue in the areas affected by the fire, and officials did not provide an estimate Monday of when services might return. Firefighters have split into three teams to battle the blaze, with operations based in Omak, Winthrop and Chelan, according to a news release.
U.S. Forest Service land south of Twisp River Road remains closed so crews can continue fire containment.
Efforts to contain the fire at Pearrygrin Lake northeast of Winthrop were called off Monday, though officials said smoke may be visible there as crews work on a controlled burn of 130 acres intended to stop the northern push of the fire.
On the east side of the fire, crews have been able to establish a fire line along Highway 97 between Brewster and Malott that has held for 48 hours. Crews will continue efforts today, with calm winds expected, to keep the fire from spreading east.
Highway 20 to the north of the fire, including Loup Loup Pass, has reopened, but officials are urging caution as the roadway is experiencing heavy traffic from fire crews.
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