Washington wildfire now 1200 acres, Highway 97 to open to alternating traffic

Lake Chelan Fire, Near Orondo, WA, July 27, 2018. Twitter: @waDNA_fire/ Global Okanagan

A wildfire has quickly grown to nearly 1200 acres Friday evening north of Wenatchee, Wash., shutting down Highway 97 while crews fight the fire and officials evacuate residents.

The highway will be be open to alternating single-land traffic between the Beebe Bridge and Orondo at 10 p.m., but Douglas County officials urge travelers to use 97A if possible.

Air tankers, helicopters and a retardant dropping plane are involved in the effort to attack the flames on the Chelan Hills Fire, according to Central Washington Interagency Communications spokesperson Jim Duck.

The fire started around 1 p.m. south of the Beebe Bridge and quickly moved up the hillside, according to the Douglas County Fire Department.

It’s burning through low brush and grass.

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An unknown number of structures were lost or compromised by the fire, according to Douglas County officials communicating through social media.

“The Red Cross is setting up a location for all evacuees at Orondo School located at 100 Orondo School Road,” read a Tweet from Douglas County.

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Highway 97A on the west side of the Columbia River remains open for north-south traffic.

Resources are being assembled from around Washington State to help fight the blaze.

The cause is under investigation.

The Beebe Bridge is about 165 kilometres south of the US-Canada border at Osoyoos.