SEATTLE – Firefighting crews are making progress against Washington’s largest wildfire, the Carlton Complex, saying the 390-square-mile fire in the north-central part of the state is now almost 60 percent contained.
But crews are monitoring with wary eyes the forecast this week that temperatures may spike to triple digits.
During the past few days, cooler weather and rain helped firefighters to contain the blaze.
“As expected, the rains we had back on Thursday really did a lot to slow this part of the fire,” incident spokesman Alan Hoffmeister said. “The perception is that the fire looks pretty well taken care of. But we still have areas of heavy fuel continuing to burn.”
On Saturday, temperatures and winds began to pick up. Plumes of smoke were popping up around the area, Hoffmeister said.
The lightning-caused Carlton Complex has eclipsed the 1902 Yacolt Burn, which killed 38 people and consumed about 373 square miles, or 238,920 acres, in southwest Washington.
The Carlton Complex has been blamed for the death of a man who suffered a heart attack while trying to protect his property.
On Friday, officials increased their estimate of burned homes from 150 to 300.
There are areas northeast of Winthrop where there is a lot of fuel – underbrush, grass and small trees – that has not burned yet, Hoffmeister said. Fire commanders are considering a planned burn to stop the fire from spreading over a ridge and toward properties.
Meanwhile in Oregon, firefighters continued to make progress on several fires.
The nation’s largest wildfire – the 618-square-mile Buzzard Complex in Eastern Oregon, 45 miles northeast of Burns – is now 95 percent contained. The Ochoco Complex, which consists of four wildfires that burned on 10,000 acres east of Prineville, is now 69 percent contained. And the Bridge 99 complex north of Sisters is 74 percent contained.