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The Today File

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August 1, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Wildfire evacuations ordered in Okanogan County

A new fire started in Winthrop this afternoon. Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted this photo from his Twitter account.

A new fire started near  Winthrop this afternoon, prompting evacuations. Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted this photo from his Twitter account.

A wildfire between Twisp and Winthrop has prompted  evacuations in Okanogan County.

Highway 20 is closed west of Twisp and east of Winthrop, the Washington State Department of Transportation reported this afternoon. Traffic is being rerouted via Old Twisp Highway.

The fire is 200 to 300 acres, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. The fire is moving northwest around Liberty Bell High School, where the Carlton Complex Incident Command Post is located. The cause of the fire is unknown.

Evacuations are in place for structures on Rising Eagle Road, Cadez said. Residents of the structures have been told to leave immediately, and Winthrop residents have been told to be ready to leave. Pearrygin Lake State Park in Winthrop is closed and being evacuated, Washington State Parks said.

“We can see the fire. It’s very close,” said Alyse Cadez, a National Park Service spokeswoman who is at the incident command post.

Bill Pope said he saw “heavy, very distinct, very dark” smoke when he was in Winthrop this afternoon. Pope, who lives about 13 miles northwest in Mazama, was able to leave Winthrop shortly before officials closed Highway 20.

“It was moving fast,” Pope said. “We had bad winds that were blowing from the southeast. They have kind of died down now, but it’s a scary situation.”

Thunderstorms are moving through the area with 20-mph winds, officials said. High temperatures in the area today reached the low 90s.

The fire is separate from the Carlton complex fire, which started as four fires and grew into one larger fire on July 20, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. The Carlton complex fire is 394 square miles and 71 percent contained.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced a burn-ban extension today that prohibits most outdoor and agricultural burning for 20 Eastern Washington counties, including Okanogan County, according to a news release. The burn ban is extended to next week.

Comments | Topics: State Route 20, wildfire, Winthrop

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