2014 Washington wildfires

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2014 Washington wildfires
2014 Carlton Complex WA National Guard.jpg
The Carlton Complex on July 21, 2014
Total fires1,480
Total area386,972 acres (1,566 km2)
Buildings destroyed300
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The 2014 Washington wildfires were a series of 1,480 wildfires that burned 386,972 acres (1,566 km2) over the course of 2014.[1] The first occurred primarily on the east side of the Cascade Range in Chelan and Okanogan counties.[citation needed] The fires burned private land, state land, and within the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests, ultimately covering over 350,000 acres (550 sq mi; 1,400 km2). The first fire began on July 8 near the Entiat River. On July 14 a lightning storm started dozens more fires across the eastern Cascade Range.[2] Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency, activating the Washington National Guard.[3] More lightning strikes later in the summer started additional fires.

Mills Canyon fire[edit]

The Mills Canyon fire burned 22,571 acres (35.3 sq mi; 91.3 km2), all within Chelan County. The fire was located south of the Entiat River and west of U.S. Route 97A and the Columbia River in the Entiat Mountains. It started on July 8 and the cause is under investigation.[2]

July 14 lightning-strike fires[edit]

Satellite image of smoke plumes, July 18, 2014

A number of fires were started by lightning strikes on July 14.

Carlton Complex[edit]

Carlton complex fire scar in false-color infrared, July 31, 2014. Burned vegetation appears red, and the most severely burned areas are generally the darkest. Unburned forests appear dark green. Actively growing farmland is bright green; unburned grasslands and brushlands are tan; and rivers are navy blue. Scale bar at lower left is 5km (3 mi.)
Weeks after a wildfire in 2014 destroyed much of the town of Pateros, this was all that remained of several blocks that were burned down to the foundations.

The Carlton Complex, covering 256,108 acres (400.2 sq mi; 1,036 km2), began as four separate lightning-caused fires on July 14 in the Methow River valley of Okanogan County: the Cougar Flat, French Creek, Gold Hike, and Stokes fires. These fires merged and rapidly spread southeast on July 17, burning approximately 300 homes in and around the towns of Pateros and Malott as well as in more rural areas.[4] The communities of Brewster, Carlton, and Methow were also threatened by fire. Power was lost to the communities of Twisp and Winthrop. Road closures included State Route 20 east of Twisp towards Loup Loup Pass, State Route 153 between Twisp and Pateros, and U.S. Route 97 between Pateros and Brewster.[5][6] Rain slowed the fire on July 24, allowing crews to reach 60% containment by July 26.[7] A new fire started along State Route 20 south of Winthrop on August 1.[6]

The Carlton Complex was the largest wildfire in Washington state's recorded history, surpassing the 1902 Yacolt Burn.[8] One death, caused by a heart attack, has been blamed on the fire.[8] Fire fighting efforts included nearly 3,000 personnel and numerous aircraft, including seven UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the Washington National Guard and a DC-10 Air Tanker.[7]

Chiwaukum Creek fire[edit]

Located northwest of Leavenworth in the Chiwaukum Mountains, this fire burned 13,895 acres (21.7 sq mi; 56.2 km2). It required the closure of U.S. Route 2 and the evacuation of nearly 900 homes, threatening the communities of Coles Corner, Winton, and Plain.[5][9] A pyrocumulus cloud could be seen rising above the fire from as far away as Seattle.[3] Part of the Chiwaukum Creek Fire burned within the northeastern boundary of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Duncan fire[edit]

Covering 12,659 acres (20 sq mi; 51 km2), the Duncan fire was located in the upper Entiat River drainage. It began on a ridge between the Entiat River and the North Fork Entiat River, eventually spreading east across the North Fork.[9][10][11]

Kelly Mountain fire[edit]

Located in the Entiat Mountains near Tommy Creek, the Kelly Mountain fire burned 124 acres (0.2 sq mi; 0.5 km2).[9]

Lone Mountain fire[edit]

Located in the Boulder Creek drainage northeast of Stehekin, the Lone Mountain fire burned 2,770 acres (4.3 sq mi; 11 km2). It was within the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, part of the North Cascades National Park Complex.[12][13]

August 2 lightning-strike fires[edit]

  • Devil's Elbow Complex – 26,349 acres (40 sq mi; 100 km2). This complex was made up of four fires on the Colville Indian Reservation north of Keller, Washington in Ferry County. The fires required closing State Route 21.[14]
  • Hansel fire – 1,016 acres (2 sq mi; 4 km2). The Hansel fire burned near Ingalls Creek and U.S. Route 97 in Chelan County.[9]
  • Little Bridge Creek fire – 4,896 acres (7.6 sq mi; 20 km2). Located between the Twisp River and State Route 20 in Okanogan County.[15]
  • Shoofly fire – 160 acres (0.25 sq mi; 0.65 km2) in the upper drainage of the Little Wenatchee River in Chelan County.[9]
  • Snag Canyon fire – 12,667 acres (20 sq mi; 51 km2). Located north of Ellensburg in Kittitas County, the Snag Canyon fire burned six homes.[16][17]
  • Upper Falls fire – 8,118 acres (13 sq mi; 33 km2). This fire burned in the Okanogan National Forest west of the Chewuch River.[18]

South Cle Elum Ridge fire[edit]

This fire was reported on August 7 on the Wenatchee National Forest southwest of Cle Elum in Kittitas County and burned 894 acres (1.4 sq mi; 3.6 km2).[19]


  1. ^ a b "2014 year-end fire statistics" (PDF). National Interagency Fire Center. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Mills Canyon Fire". InciWeb: Incident Information System. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Wildfire near Leavenworth closes stretch of Highway 2". Seattle Times and wire services. YakimaHerald.com. July 17, 2014. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  4. ^ "Homes destroyed by wildfire total 300, Okanogan sheriff says". The Associated Press. The Seattle Times. July 25, 2014. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Geranios, Nicholas K.; Johnson, Gene (July 19, 2014). "Damage from Washington Wildfires 'Hard to Believe'". The Associated Press. Boston.com. Archived from the original on July 27, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Carlton Complex". InciWeb: Incident Information System. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Crews plan controlled burn near Carlton complex wildfire". The Seattle Times. July 26, 2014. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014.
  8. ^ a b O'Sullivan, Joseph (July 21, 2014). "Firefighting crews hunker down for long haul". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on July 22, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Chiwaukum Complex". InciWeb: Incident Information System. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  10. ^ "Fire Update for Mills Canyon, Chiwaukum, Kelly MT n, & Duncan Fires". InciWeb: Incident Information System. July 19, 2014. Archived from the original on July 21, 2014.
  11. ^ "Duncan Fire". InciWeb: Incident Information System. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  12. ^ "Lone Mountain Fire Update—July 21st a.m." North Cascades National Park, U.S. National Park Service. July 21, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  13. ^ "Lone Mountain 1 Fire". InciWeb: Incident Information System. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  14. ^ "Devil's Elbow Complex". InciWeb: Incident Information System. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  15. ^ "Little Bridge Creek Fire". InciWeb: Incident Information System. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  16. ^ "Snag Canyon Fire". InciWeb: Incident Information System. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  17. ^ Rosbach, Molly (August 3, 2014). "Snag Canyon fire destroys 6 homes; area reduced to 1,830 acres". Yakima Herald-Republic. Archived from the original on August 5, 2014. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  18. ^ "Upper Falls Fire". InciWeb: Incident Information System. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  19. ^ "South Cle Elum Ridge Fire". InciWeb: Incident Information System. Retrieved August 8, 2014.

Further reading[edit]