'Funnel of fire' destroys homes in Washington

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'Funnel of fire' destroys homes in Washington
A DC-10 air tanker drops fire retardant over a wildfire Saturday, July 19, 2014, near Carlton, Wash. A wind-driven, lightning-caused wildfire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes Thursday and Friday, leaving behind solitary brick chimneys and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles in the scenic Methow Valley northeast of Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
PATEROS, WASHINGTON - JULY 20: Randy Loucks, right, of Brewster, Washington and Rich Pitkethly of Brewster dig through the remains of a home belonging to Loucks mother-in-law following a wildfire July 20, 2014 in Pateros, Washington. The home was destroyed in a fire storm July 17. Loucks had just finished sprucing up the house with new paint and carpet as a surprise to his mother-in-law, who is visiting relatives in Arkansas. Several fires throughout the state have destroyed hundreds of home forced evacuations and continue to threaten more communities. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
PATEROS, WASHINGTON - JULY 20: A United States flag is displayed amid the ruins of a block of homes following a wildfire July 20, 2014 in Pateros, Washington. Several fires throughout the state have destroyed hundreds of home forced evacuations and continue to threaten more communities. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
PATEROS, WASHINGTON - JULY 20: A home destroyed by wildfire overlooks the Methow River July 20, 2014 in Pateros, Washington. Several fires throughout the state have destroyed hundreds of home forced evacuations and continue to threaten more communities. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Firefighter Kathleen Calvin looks around as she sits atop her fire truck while waiting to begin work as smoke from a wildfire fills the sky behind Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Winthrop, Wash. A wind-driven, lightning-caused wildfire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes Thursday and Friday, leaving behind solitary brick chimneys and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles in the scenic Methow Valley northeast of Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
PATEROS, WASHINGTON - JULY 20: Randy Loucks, right, of Brewster, Washington and Rich Pitkethly of Brewster dig through the remains of a home belonging to Loucks mother-in-law following a wildfire July 20, 2014 in Pateros, Washington. The home was destroyed in a fire storm July 17. Loucks had just finished sprucing up the house with new paint and carpet as a surprise to his mother-in-law, who is visiting relatives in Arkansas. Several fires throughout the state have destroyed hundreds of home forced evacuations and continue to threaten more communities. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Flames shoot from behind a house during a wildfire Friday, July 18, 2014, near Pateros, Wash. Authorities say the wildfire has already burned about 100 homes and prompted the evacuation of Pateros, home to about 650 people in Okanogan County. A hospital in nearby Brewster was also evacuated as a precaution.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Firefighters works on the still-smoldering home of the mayor of Pateros, Wash., Friday, July 18, 2014. A fire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes, leaving behind smoldering rubble, solitary brick chimneys and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles. Friday's dawn revealed dramatic devastation, with the Okanagan County town of Pateros, home to 650 people, hit especially hard. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A firefighter works on the still-smoldering home of the mayor of Pateros, Wash., Friday, July 18, 2014. A fire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes, leaving behind smoldering rubble, solitary brick chimneys and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles. Friday's dawn revealed dramatic devastation, with the Okanagan County town of Pateros, home to 650 people, hit especially hard. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A plume of smoke is seen over Interstate 25 as the Waldo Canyon wildfire moved into subdivisions and destroyed homes in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Gaylon Wampler)
David Burdick walks past the smoldering remains of his niece's home after sifting through the rubble Friday, July 18, 2014, in Pateros, Wash. A fire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes, leaving behind smoldering rubble, solitary brick chimneys and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles. Friday's dawn revealed dramatic devastation, with the Okanagan County town of Pateros, home to 650 people, hit especially hard. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Massive flames burn trees in the Chiwaukum Creek Fire as seen from the air near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A plane drops fire retardant on the Chiwaukum Creek Fire near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Smoke and flames rise from the Chiwaukum Creek Fire near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014, in this aerial photo. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Flames from the Chiwaukum Creek Fire are seen from the air near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Smoke from the Chiwaukum Creek Fire is seen from the air with Mount Rainier in the background near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Smoke from the Chiwaukum Creek Fire is shown from the window of an airplane flying near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Flames from the Chiwaukum Creek Fire are seen from the air near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Chinook helicopter carries a water bucket above the Chiwaukum Creek Fire near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Flames burn trees in the Chiwaukum Creek Fire as seen from the air near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A wildfire burns near Entiat, Wash., Friday, July 11, 2014. Several hundred firefighters worked Friday to contain the fire that has burned grass and brush across nearly 30 square miles in central Washington. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
Smoke rises from the area of a wildfire near Entiat, Wash., Friday, July 11, 2014. Several hundred firefighters worked Friday to contain the fire that has burned grass and brush across nearly 30 square miles in central Washington. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
Smoke rises from the area of a wildfire near Entiat, Wash., Friday, July 11, 2014. Several hundred firefighters worked Friday to contain the fire that has burned grass and brush across nearly 30 square miles in central Washington. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
A helicopter carries a bucket of water to the area of a wildfire near Entiat, Wash., Friday, July 11, 2014. Several hundred firefighters worked Friday to contain the fire that has burned grass and brush across nearly 30 square miles in central Washington. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
Smoke and flames are seen from the air at the Chiwaukum Creek Fire near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
In this Sunday July 13, 2014, photo released by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry, the Moccasin Hill fire burns north of Sprague River and northeast of Klamath Falls, Ore. Lightning struck Oregon more than 6,000 times Sunday and Monday, touching off small fires by the dozens. Such a barrage can be expected to cause numerous "sleeper" or holdover fires in coming days. (AP Photo/Oregon Dept. of Forestry, Dennis Lee)
A plane drops fire retardant on the Chiwaukum Creek Fire near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Smoke rises from the area of a wildfire near Entiat, Wash., Friday, July 11, 2014. Several hundred firefighters worked Friday to contain the fire that has burned grass and brush across nearly 30 square miles in central Washington. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
In this aerial photo, smoke billows from a wildfire in the Manastash Ridge area of central Washington Thursday, July 3, 2014, near Ellensburg, Wash. The blaze was reported about Thursday afternoon and has so far burned across about 2,000 acres of sagebrush, temporarily closing a nearby eastbound section of Interstate 82. Jim Duck, at the Central Washington Interagency Communications Center, said five helicopters were fighting the fire with help from several bulldozers and several dozen firefighters and said that no homes are threatened. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
Smoke and flames are seen from the air at the Chiwaukum Creek Fire near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Smoke from a separate fire north-east of the Chiwaukum Creek Fire near Leavenworth, Wash., is seen from the air, Thursday, July 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Smoke and flames rise from the Chiwaukum Creek Fire near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014, in this aerial photo. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
The Chiwaukum Creek Fire is seen from the air near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A plane drops fire retardant on the Chiwaukum Creek Fire near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
The Chiwaukum Creek Fire is seen from the air near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Smoke filters through trees as seen from the air at the Chiwaukum Creek Fire near Leavenworth, Wash., Thursday, July 17, 2014. The blaze closed a section of U.S. Highway 2, and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 900 homes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
PATEROS, WASHINGTON - JULY 20: Randy Loucks, right, of Brewster, Washington and Rich Pitkethly of Brewster take a dig through the remains of a home belonging to Loucks mother-in-law following a wildfire July 20, 2014 in Pateros, Washington. The home was destroyed in a fire storm July 17. Loucks had just finished sprucing up the house with new paint and carpet as a surprise to his mother-in-law, who is visiting relatives in Arkansas. Several fires throughout the state have destroyed hundreds of home forced evacuations and continue to threaten more communities. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
PATEROS, WASHINGTON - JULY 20: A utility pole destroyed by fire is a tangle wood and wire July 20, 2014 in Pateros, Washington. A wildfire ripped through the the block on July 17. Several fires throughout the state have destroyed hundreds of home forced evacuations and continue to threaten more communities. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
PATEROS, WASHINGTON - JULY 20: Randy Loucks, right, of Brewster, Washington and Rich Pitkethly of Brewster dig through the remains of a home belonging to Loucks mother-in-law following a wildfire July 20, 2014 in Pateros, Washington. The home was destroyed in a fire storm July 17. Loucks had just finished sprucing up the house with new paint and carpet as a surprise to his mother-in-law, who is visiting relatives in Arkansas. Several fires throughout the state have destroyed hundreds of home forced evacuations and continue to threaten more communities. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
A DC-10 air tanker pulls up after dropping fire retardant over a wildfire Saturday, July 19, 2014, near Carlton, Wash. A wind-driven, lightning-caused wildfire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes Thursday and Friday, leaving behind solitary brick chimneys and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles in the scenic Methow Valley northeast of Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Clouds of smoke billow from a wildfire Friday, July 18, 2014, near Twisp, Wash. A fire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes, leaving behind smoldering rubble, solitary brick chimneys and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles. Friday's dawn revealed dramatic devastation, with the Okanagan County town of Pateros, home to 650 people, hit especially hard. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS and GENE JOHNSON

PATEROS, Wash. (AP) - A fire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes, leaving behind smoldering rubble, solitary brick chimneys and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles in the scenic Methow Valley.

Friday's dawn revealed dramatic devastation, with the Okanagan County town of Pateros, home to 650 people, hit especially hard. Most residents evacuated in advance of the flames, and some returned Friday to see what, if anything, was left of their houses. There were no reports of injuries, officials said.

A wall of fire wiped out a block of homes on Dawson Street. David Brownlee, 75, said he drove away Thursday evening just as the fire reached the front of his home, which erupted like a box of matches.

"It was just a funnel of fire," Brownlee said. "All you could do was watch her go."

Next door, the Pateros Community Church appeared largely undamaged.

The pavement of U.S. Highway 97 stopped the advance of some of the flames, protecting parts of Pateros.

Firefighters poured water over the remnants of homes Friday morning, raising clouds of smoke, steam and dust. Two big water towers perched just above the town were singed black by the flames. The fire consumed utility poles from two major power lines, one feeding Pateros and the other feeding the towns of Winthrop and Twisp to the north.

Gov. Jay Inslee said about 50 fires were burning in Washington, which has been wracked by hot, dry weather and lightning. Some 2,000 firefighters were working in the eastern part of the state, with about a dozen helicopters from the Department of Natural Resources and the National Guard, along with a Washington State Patrol spotter plane.

Inslee said that the state was rapidly training about 1,000 additional National Guard troops and active duty military could be called in as well.

"This, unfortunately, is not going to be a one-day or one-week event," he said.

The Methow Valley, about 180 miles northeast of Seattle, is a popular area for hiking and fishing. Sections of several highways were closed.

"There's a lot of misplaced people, living in parking lots and stuff right now," said Rod Griffin, a fly-fishing guide who lives near Twisp. "The whole valley's in disarray."

He described long lines for gasoline, with at least one gas station out of fuel, and said cellphone towers must have been damaged as well because there was very little service.

In Brewster, 6 miles to the south, a hospital was evacuated as a precaution. The smoke was so thick there Friday it nearly obscured the Columbia River from adjacent highways. The smoke extended all the way to Spokane, 150 miles to the east.

Jacob McCann, a spokesman for the fire known as the Carlton Complex, said it "ran quite a bit" Thursday and officials were also able to get a better handle on its size. It blackened 260 square miles by Friday morning, up dramatically from the prior estimate of 28 square miles.

"Mother Nature is winning here," Don Waller, chief of Okanogan County Fire District 6, told The Wenatchee World newspaper.

The county sheriff, Frank Rogers, said his team counted 30 houses and trailers destroyed in Pateros, another 40 in a community just outside the town at Alta Lake, and about 25 homes destroyed elsewhere in the county of about 40,000 people.

About 100 miles to the south, the Chiwaukum Creek Fire chased people from nearly 900 homes as it sent a dusting of ash over the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth.

Worsening wildfire activity has prompted the governor's offices in both Washington and Oregon to declare states of emergency, a move that allows state officials to call up the National Guard.

Fifteen large fires were reported around Oregon on Friday, burning across 565 square miles of timber, rangeland and grass. Dozens of homes were evacuated.

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