“Catastrophic wildfire” has burned thousands of acres, forced evacuations in Washington

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WASHINGTON — A raging wildfire in central Washington state has burned through thousands of acres, damaged dozens of homes and forced residents to evacuate.

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.

The fast-moving fire “significantly damaged” an estimated 24 to 28 homes, Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz said.

“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.

About 3,000 acres have burned as of Monday, according to the Chelan County Fire Department.

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.”

Washington state wildfire

Washington state wildfire