Carlton Complex fire 71% contained


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Posted on July 17, 2014 at 7:20 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 31 at 6:17 PM

OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash. — Organizers said the Carlton Complex fire was 71-percent contained Thursday after it grew 673 acres the day prior. In total, the fire charred 251,698 acres in central Washington.

Residents of the area were still seeing heavy smoke as of Thursday, July 31st. Authorities said traffic in residential areas impacted by the fire would be limited to local residents. More than 3,000 firefighters continued to battle hotspots on the north end of the fire.

Showers moderated fire behavior and helped 2,856 firefighters catch a major break, making significant progress earlier in the month.

Authorities said power was restored to most parts of the Methow Valley within nine days of the initial flames.

Official said Spokane County Fire District 8 played a big role in saving homes. They said they saved six homes near Malott. A crew from Airway Heights also helped save homes in that area. 

The Okanogan County Sheriff said a retired Washington State Trooper, Rob Koczewski, died of an apparent heart attack while attempting to save his home. The 67-year-old and his wife were hauling water and digging lines on their property according to Sheriff Frank Rogers. Koczewski was well-known and respected throughout the community Rogers said. He also served as a Sergeant Major for the U.S. Marine Corps.

It was originally estimated that the Carlton Complex fire burned 299,897 but a spokesperson for Washington State Patrol said more accurate mapping revealed otherwise.

The fire destroyed about 300 homes when it roared through the Pateros and and Brewster communities between July 17th and 18th.

Authorities expected Pateros would likely be without power for a month. Rogers said heat, humidity, wind and terrain were all challenges in fighting the fire.


 Even in bad times - good shines. Scouts giving donuts to firefighters #CarltonComplex #HELP2WA @krem2

— Laura Papetti (@KREM2Laura) July 21, 2014


Sheriff Rogers said this is the worst mass emergency situation he has ever been a part of.

The Carlton Complex fire started as four smaller fires sparked by lightning on July 14, 2014. They merged into one bigger fire within days.

Red Cross set-up shelters in the following places:

--Brewster High School, 503 S. 7th, Brewster

--Chelan High School, 215 W. Webster, Chelan

--Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church, 328 N. Riverside, Omak

--Winthrop Barn Auditorium, 51 N. Hwy 20, Winthrop

You can contact the “511” automated Washington Department of Transportation Travel Information line for updated information.

Highway 97 from Brewster to Pateros and from Chelan to Peteros are closed.