The largest wildfire in Washington state history has claimed many more homes than previously estimated, with the toll now “in excess of 250 homes,” according to Chief Deputy David Rodriguez of the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office. That number is expected to grow as more families return to their homes to check for damage in coming weeks. Additionally, the county government will lead a parcel-by-parcel search to determine fire damage, Rodriguez said. The fire, which caused at least one death, continues to burn and has now charred a quarter-million acres -- an area roughly one-third the size of Rhode Island.
Residents of the north-central region of Washington state affected by the fires did received a bit of good news Friday, more than a week since the wildfire system was sparked by lightning. “This is the glorious day,” Rodriguez said, as power crews were finally able to restore electricity to three towns affected by the fire: Winthrop, Twisp and Pateros. Going into the weekend, the wildfire is 55 percent contained, largely thanks to rain that came earlier this week. Rodriguez cautioned, though, that the rainstorms also brought lightning, which could have sparked fires that might flare up during the weekend.
— Jacob Passy
First published July 25 2014, 3:03 PM