PATEROS, Wash. -- The Carlton Complex fire is now considered the largest in Washington history. It has burned more acreage than a huge fire in 1902.
The Methow Valley is no stranger to wildfires. Even those who have lived there for many years said they have never seen a wildfire quite like this one.
Even seasoned firefighters and longtime residents have a hard time remembering flames this fast or unforgiving.
It has been two decades since the Tyee Creek fire scorched 135,000 acres around Wenatchee and Leavenworth. The damage from 1994 is still visible today. It was considered one of Washington’s worst wildfires for year.
In 2003, the Farewell Creek fire was sparked by lightning and burned uncontained for a month and a half. It charred more than 80,000 acres.
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That was nothing compared to a fire that came three years later. The Tripod Complex fire in 2006 raged through Winthrop, destroying dozens of homes and cabins. It claimed 176,000 acres and burned until the first snowfall.
Even the Tripod Fire does not compare to the Carlton Complex. It spread thousands of acres in just a few days and is only 16% contained. Thousands of firefighters were on the ground and the state mobilized additional help, including four National Guard Blackhawk Helicopters.
One person has died during the fire. Retired Washington State Patrol Tropper, Rob Koczewski, died from a heart attack. He and his wife were trying to protect their home from the approaching flames.