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Aerial Images Show Washington Wildfire Destruction

An aerial cellphone photo shows a largely burned landscape near Alta Lake, Pateros, Wash. The massive Carlton Complex Fire has been burning through Washington state. Jacob Rascon / NBC News

A massive fire — called the Carlton Complex Fire because it is the spawn of several fires that merged into one enormous blaze — spread over a quarter-million acres of north-central Washington on Wednesday. It was 52 percent contained Wednesday night as crews made significant progress along the fire's east and south sides.

But firefighters had to be pulled off the line on the north side because of the danger posed by strong thunderstorms causing 50-mph winds and flash floods. While the rain slowed the progress of the fire, "it takes a lot more than that," said Andrew Sandri, a spokesman for the combined state and federal incident response team.

One person has been killed and almost 500 homes have been evacuated by the massive fire, which has drawn more than 2,500 firefighters from across the country.

Image: Structures were destroyed by wildfires near Pateros, Wash.
An aerial photo shows structures which were destroyed by wildfires near Pateros, Wash. on July 24. Fire spokesman Pete Buist says the biggest wildfire in the state's history remains at 52 percent contained on July 24. However, the weather forecast calls for hot and dry conditions to return over the next few days. AP
— By M. Alex Johnson and Jacob Rascon