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Fast-growing Washington wildfire burns 2 homes (w/video)

SPOKANE, Wash. — A fast-growing cluster of wildfires scorching north-central Washington state's scenic Methow Valley burned at least two homes Thursday, authorities said.

The Carlton Complex of fires covers 28 square miles of the valley near the town of Twisp, and is being pushed by high temperatures and strong winds.

Fire spokesman Jacob McCann also said there have been unconfirmed reports that eight other homes have burned in the four blazes that make up the complex and noted that "we have extreme fire behavior and rapid growth."

The fires have prompted the closure of Highway 20 at Loup Loup Pass, he said.

Another wildfire about 100 miles south chased people from nearly 900 homes as it burned near the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth.

The Chiwaukum Creek Fire sent a light dusting of ash over Leavenworth, where the German-style motif provides a backdrop to Oktoberfest and a Christmas tree lighting festival.

The fire's smoke plume rose 25,000 feet into the air. The blaze closed 35 miles of U.S. 2, stretching from Leavenworth to Stevens Pass in the Cascade Mountains.

Residents of 860 homes have been told they should leave immediately, fire officials said. Another 800 homes were less seriously threatened.

Authorities said Thursday the Chiwaukum fire has grown to more than 10 square miles.

"The weather and winds are not in our favor," said fire spokeswoman Mary Bean.

About 1,000 firefighters were fighting blazes across the state that included the Mills Canyon Fire, the state's largest at 35 square miles.

Plumes of smoke from a wildfire arc as seen from Highway 2 at Highway 207, west of Leavenworth, Wash., on Thursday.

Associated Press

Plumes of smoke from a wildfire arc as seen from Highway 2 at Highway 207, west of Leavenworth, Wash., on Thursday.

Fast-growing Washington wildfire burns 2 homes (w/video) 07/17/14 [Last modified: Thursday, July 17, 2014 10:28pm]

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