Okanogan wildfires grow by 100 square miles

Massive wildfires expanding across the arid state have so overtaxed firefighters that the federal government declared an emergency and state officials took the unprecedented step of seeking volunteers to help fight the flames.

This coming just shortly after a federal emergency was declared for Washington State wildfires and President Barack Obama signing an emergency declaration Friday, ordering federal aid to assist in battling Washington state’s wildfires.

Over 3,000 responded to Washington’s recent request for volunteers to assist with fighting the numerous wildfires in eastern Washington.

Evacuations are still being conducted in most of the fire complex regions, including but not limited to Okanogan, Douglas, and Chelan Counties. These evacuations are classed as either level 1, 2, or 3, with level 3 evacuations currently being conducted most recently in Okanogan County.

As of this writing, residents living along Twisp River Road from Arnica Lane to Little Bridge Creek in Okanogan County are now under a Level 3 evacuation order, which means they should leave immediately.

The areas of West Buttermilk Road and East Buttermilk Road near Twisp River Road should also evacuate.

The Okanogan County PUD reports that the fires have knocked out power to Twisp, Winthrop and the surrounding areas.

The Aeneas Valley, Conconully, Malot, Omak Flats and Winthrop are all under Level 3 evacuation notices. The towns of Okanogan, Riverside, Tonasket and Twisp are under a Level 2, which means people should be packed and ready to go.

Towns on Level 1 evacuation notice, which means residents should be aware of local fires, are Brewster, Carlton, Chesaw, Mazama, Moison, Omak, Oroville and Pateros.

Highway 20 is closed between Tonasket to Aeneas Valley Road, but vehicles are being led through the closure by Washington Department of Transportation crews.

Red Cross shelters are open at the Brewster and Tonasket high schools.