Washington State Wildfire Reverses Course, Threatens Lakeside Homes
A vast wildfire shooting flames 150 feet high changed course and swept back Wednesday to within three miles of Lake Chelan. Nervous lake-shore residents lined up boats to escape in case flames blocked the only road out.
Fire officials urged homeowners along the lake’s south shore three miles from Chelan to evacuate. But several stayed, keeping a wary eye on smoke plumes that rose into a white cloud 40,000 feet high and visible in Seattle, 75 miles west on the other side of the Cascade Mountains.
“When it comes over the hill, at that point we might get a little more excited,” said Walt Haberman, watching the fire with a group of friends outside the Chelan Yacht Club, where his boat was waiting.
“We can get out of here at any time with the boat,” Haberman said. “All we’d have to do is go across the lake there and tie up.”
The 104,040-acre Tyee Creek fire had threatened this town of 3,000 and the lake’s southeastern shore last week before moving west. The fire began moving back toward the lake Wednesday.
As it turned, a wall of flames 150 feet long jumped over a bulldozed fire line, said Tyee fire spokesman Larry Anderson.
Overnight the fire moved to within 11 miles of Leavenworth, about 30 miles southwest of Chelan. Leavenworth, a Bavarian-themed tourist town, already is being threatened by a separate, 26,400-acre blaze known as the Hatchery Complex fire.
Civilian crews backed by Marines were battling the Tyee blaze in central Washington, while other crews fought eight other fires around the state. Most of the fires were ignited by lightning.
Washington’s wildfires were among 26 major fires burning more than 204,000 acres in eight states Wednesday.