Crews cancel burnout on big Washington wildfire

WINTHROP — Erratic winds forced crews to cancel a burnout operation that had been planned Tuesday near Washington’s biggest wildfire to deprive it of fuel.

Crews had planned to send flames from a secure fire line on the northeast side of the Carlton Complex back toward the main fire, through rugged terrain that they had been unable to attack directly.

Crews conducted a test burn Tuesday and decided it wasn’t a good idea, spokesman Alan Hoffmeister said.

The burnout operation was planned about three miles northwest of the Loup Loup ski area near Winthrop.

The Carlton Complex, which has burned about 390 square miles in the scenic Methow Valley, was two-thirds contained Tuesday. Temperatures are expected to reach the 90s this week, and keeping firefighters hydrated is a main concern.

More than 3,100 people were assigned to the fire, as well as 19 bulldozers and 17 helicopters.

Meanwhile, a section of state Highway 2 continues to be closed just west of Leavenworth because of nearby wildfires at the Chiwaukum Complex. Officials said that higher temperatures throughout the week will increase fire activity and likely keep the section of the road closed. A detour that adds 15 minutes of travel time is available.

The Chiwaukum Complex, which has burned 12,377 acres, is now about 25 percent contained.

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