Homes evacuated, US 2 closed near Leavenworth


by KING 5 News

Posted on July 16, 2014 at 5:23 PM

About 600 homes near Leavenworth have received a level 3 evacuation notice due to a massive wildfire.

Residents were told to remember the six "P's" - people, pets, prescriptions, important papers, photos and personal computer.

The Red Cross will open a shelter at the First Baptist Church in Leavenworth, Chelan County Emergency Management said.

US 2 was closed at Coles Corner to just west of Leavenworth on Wednesday afternoon. CCEM said it's not known how long the road will be closed.

A massive plume of smoke from the Mills Canyon Complex could be seen from Seattle on Wednesday.

A state of emergency has been declared in 20 Eastern Washington counties because of wildfires that threaten homes, businesses,  commercial orchards and cultural sites.

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen signed the emergency proclamation late Tuesday.

The declaration allows officials to get help from the Washington National Guard and the State Guard if needed. It also directs state agencies to help local governments in responding to wildfires.

As of early Wednesday afternoon the Mills Canyon Complex was 40 percent contained.

Evacuation levels were changing. Check the Chelan County Emergency Management Facebook page or follow on Twitter for the latest on evacuations and road closures.

CCEM said Wednesday that Entiat River Road has been closed at Fox Creek due to the Tommy Creek Fire. The Fox Creek Campground, Lake CG, Silver Falls CG, North Fork, Spruce Grove CG and Cottonwood CG are all closed.

The National Weather Service posted red flag warnings and fire weather watches for hazardous fire weather conditions (high temperatures, low humidity, high winds) for much of Eastern Washington from Wednesday afternoon through Friday.

State officials are worried extreme fire weather conditions and the lack of firefighting resources in the Northwest could hamper future firefighting efforts in the state.

The emergency proclamation of emergency covers Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman and Yakima counties.

Smoke from multiple fires has reduced air quality in some areas. On Wednesday afternoon, air quality in Leavenworth was listed as "unhealthy." Check the Washington Air Quality Advisory Map

The Washington Department of Natural Resources has put a burn ban in place for all state lands through September 30.

Chelan County Emergency Management noted that wildfires disrupt wildlife, so if you are traveling in the area of a fire, be aware that animals may be moving more than usual and at different times of the day than usual. Watch for animals that may be fleeing the fire areas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.