Carlton Complex

  • Carlton Complex
  • Carlton Complex
  • Carlton Complex 1
  • Carlton Complex 2

In July of 2014 hot summer conditions had dried out the sagebrush, grass, and timber that make up the Methow Valley drainage. On the 14th, a lightning storm ignited four small fires. Within three days the Stokes Fire, the Gold Hikes Fire, the French Creek Fire and the Cougar Flat fire combined to be the Carlton Complex. By the 20th, warm winds and extremely dry conditions created a firestorm that burned 256,108 acres in total, destroying 356 homes, and costing 98$ million in damages. The Carlton Complex was the largest and most devastating wildfire Okanogan County had been faced with, and although no lives were lost, the damages were irreversible. By July 23rd Washington State was declared under a state of emergency because of wildfires, and the Carlton Complex was named as the number one priority wildfire in all of the nation. Firefighters from all over the country came to help, numbering as much as 3,000 or more. During the fight, firefighters were faced with impossible conditions. Wind speeds reached highs in the 30s resulting in a 400 square-foot fire too large to contain. Pateros and Brewster alone faced the largest of the destruction, losing at least 300 homes. The landscape of these towns and surrounding areas forever changed, and were further damaged by weather as the fire season came to a close. On August 24th, a full 41 days after the fire had started, the Carlton Complex was finally declared 100% contained, thanks to a rainstorm that rolled in a few days previous. The rain, with nowhere to go but the ashen wasteland left behind, caused massive landslides and flash floods that further devastated the area. 

 

 

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