“With the wind blowing away from us, it was like we were watching a natural disaster within arm’s reach,” he said.
The wildfires hit parts of central and eastern Washington over the weekend as the state is struggling with a severe drought. Mountain snowpack is at extremely low levels, and about one-fifth of the state’s rivers and streams are at record low levels.
Eastern Washington has been experiencing temperatures into the 100s, and last week Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation that allows state resources to quickly be brought in to respond to wildfires.
Washington’s struggles with wildfires come as Alaska, its fellow Pacific Northwest state, is facing more and harsher wildfires this year.
In Wenatchee, the wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into town Sunday afternoon. The blaze ignited in brush just outside Wenatchee, quickly burning out of control about 120 miles east of Seattle.
Rainfall on Monday provided relief, but hot, dry conditions and wind could challenge crews trying to get a handle on the flames that burned more than an estimated 4 square miles, officials said. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries, but no injuries to residents were reported.
Fire crews were concentrating on preventing any more homes from being burned Monday, State Patrol Trooper Brian Moore said. Crews were working to put out hot spots in already burned areas, while keeping an eye on winds that were expected to reach 15 to 20 mph Monday evening and could fan flames again.