SEATTLE, Wash. — Randy Dawson called 911 when he spotted flames near his house in central Washington state.
It wasn’t long before the fast-moving blaze came even closer.
“I saw … the fire start down the road from us about 200 yards and race up the hill and right by our house,” Dawson said.
Now, a day after the wildfire fire burned past Dawson’s home, the blaze has devoured about 3,000 acres. And thanks to triple-digit temperatures in the area, it shows no signs of slowing, Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz said.
“We’re worried now about what’s going to happen next,” Kuntz said, noting that hundreds of firefighters were working around the clock to battle the blaze.
So far, about 10% of the fire has been contained, Washington emergency management officials said.
And the blaze has “significantly damaged” an estimated 24 to 28 homes and forced many residents to evacuate, Kuntz said.
For hours on Monday, residents faced a new threat — an ammonia leak — after embers caught a recycling plant on fire, sending smoke rising from the facility. But emergency management officials in Chelan County, Washington, later advised residents that the ammonia had dissipated and was no longer an issue.
The fire began Sunday afternoon outside Wenatchee but was burning within the city limits late Sunday night, Rich Magnussen of the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said.
Officials are referring to it as the Sleepy Hollow Fire because the blaze started on Sleepy Hollow Road.
“It was intense, large embers blowing everywhere, roofs catching on fire, vegetation around the house, just spreading from house to house, and the firefighters were doing everything they could to keep it contained to the structures that were involved, and keep it away from the uninvolved structures,” Mike Burnett, Chelan County fire chief, told reporters.
The cause of the fire was uncertain, but temperatures in the region have topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit for days, and rainfall has been scarce.
Several firefighters suffered minor injuries, including smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion, while battling the blaze, the department said.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Wenatchee this morning,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement Monday. “Yet again, our state is experiencing a catastrophic wildfire that has displaced families and shut down businesses, as well as risked the lives of our firefighters and emergency personnel.”