TWISP, Wash. - About 300 homes - twice as many as previously estimated - have burned in the largest recorded wildfire in Washington state history, a county sheriff said today.
Officials had placed the number of homes destroyed at 150 in north-central Washington's Carlton fire complex. But Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said he knew that figure would rise because crews hadn't been able to reach some of the burned areas.
The updated estimate came after Rogers and his deputies drove 750 miles of roadway through the blackened area, surveying the devastation.
"It's every road. Every road lost something," Rogers said. "It looks like a moonscape; there's nothing left. There's hundreds of dead livestock. It's horrifying."
At nearly 400 square miles, 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 appeared to suffer a heart attack while trying to protect his property.
Fire crews have reported good progress in the last few days, with cooler weather and rain helping in getting the fire a little more than half contained. But officials were concerned that hotter, drier weather and wind gusts in the forecast could increase fire activity.