BY NICOLE HENSLEY
Flames sprouted across the Cascade Mountains — and to commuters and Seattle residents, the smoke looked like an ominous mushroom cloud. Near the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, ash rained from the sky. Washington state Lt. Gov. Brad Owen ordered the National Guard to help out in 20 counties.
Hot temperatures and high winds fanned a large wildfire in central Washington state that lifted a giant column of smoke above the Seattle horizon and forced evacuations in nearby communities.
There’s been little to no progress to contain a fire near Chiwaukum Creek that was sparked last week by lightning strikes. The flames sprouted across the Cascade Mountains — and to commuters and residents of the Seattle metropolitan area, the smoke looked like an ominous mushroom cloud.
Emergency crews have closed a section of U.S. 2, one of the main routes across the state, and ordered evacuations near the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, where ash rained from the sky.
More than 800 firefighters including hot shot crews are working the blaze, but it continues to grow. Because of the smoke, it’s been difficult to assess the wildfire’s size, but it could be more than 1,000 acres, according to the Seattle Times.
Low humidity and blistering temperatures of 100 degrees have fueled wildfire conditions making it difficult for firefighters.
Several other fires in Washington have prompted officials to declare states of emergency. Lt. Gov. Brad Owen ordered the National Guard to help out in 20 counties.
The Red Cross has set up a shelter in Leavenworth for residents and campers who have evacuated