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Most Destructive Wildfire In Wash. Leaves Thousands Without AC, Gas, ATMs

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
A helicopter preparing to drop water is dwarfed by a billowing cloud of smoke from a wildfire Friday, July 18, 2014, in Twisp, Wash. A fire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes.

The most destructive wildfire currently burning in the Northwest has left thousands of people without air conditioning and refrigeration. The so-called Carlton Complex fire has closed gas stations and shut down ATMs in north-central Washington.

Okanogan County currently estimates 150 to 200 homes burned to the ground. The Okanogan County Utility District says its electrical system is almost a complete loss.

Cars and trucks pulled into Bart Bradshaw’s gasoline station just on the edge of Winthrop, Washington.

“It’s usually not stacked up like this. It’s usually just a nice little gas station, but cars are really backing up,” Bradshaw said.

It’s the only gas station in the resort town that’s open thanks to a generator Bradshaw bought eight years ago just in case of an emergency like this.

The fire is burning about two miles from his home outside of town, but Bradshaw says he feels the need to be at the gas station, keeping it open to help fire crews and homeowners.

“When the power goes out, which it does every once in a while, gas and propane are pretty essential, especially if people need to leave the valley,” Bradshaw said.

Okanogan County Public Utility District officials say it could still be days or even weeks for people to get power back in the Methow Valley.

Dan Boettger is in the PUD’s management. He says 3,700 of his customer’s are without power.

Boettger attended a community meeting in the Columbia River town of Brewster to answer questions about when people will get their power back. He says the blaze has destroyed a lot of the area’s electrical infrastructure.

“There’s a good percentage that just doesn’t exist anymore,” Boettger said.

Boettger says Sunday was the first day crews were able to start replacing burnt power poles. He says crews from the Bonneville Power Administration have also arrived to fix transmission lines in the area.

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